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inactive user 01 07-16-2013 09:17 AM

Why no more Tall Stacks?
Hello All,

Just this morning I sent a letter to the editor of our local newspaper posing this exact question. I have my suspicions why those managing Tall Stacks can't seem to get the boilers lite on a future event but I'd like your input. If Louisville can put on such a grand party for the Belle in 2014 why can't Cincinnati in 2015 or beyond. We have a new riverfront park (much like Louisville's) as well as a new entertainment district (called the Banks) which would only give Tall Stacks visitors more options for viewing and dining, etc. Many people have mentioned logistics to me and frankly I don't think that's the issue at all. Cincinnati has possibly the best riverfront to hold an event like this as has been proven by the past events. My goal here is to collect as much information as I can in hopes of presenting it to someone associated with Tall Stacks. There is interest in this event and I am hoping that seeing the success of The Belle's Birthday Bash will only solidify that with the higher powers at Tall Stacks. As always I appreciate your thoughts.


Judy Patsch 07-16-2013 01:51 PM

Start with:
Start with money and no Nelson Jones...

inactive user 01 07-16-2013 02:32 PM

Hey Judy,

Thanks for commenting. I agree that Nelson played a huge roll in the success of the recent Tall Stacks festivals but I have to disagree that without him it simply can't happen. I know where you are coming from because Nelson was a huge contributor in finances, equipment, labor and time all by his own hand. It would certainly be difficult without those resources, but I believe it is possible. The group who has put on the "Tall Stacks, Music, Arts, and Heritage Festival" have always had huge corporate partners here in Cincinnati and I suspect if approached those corporate partners would once again come out of the woodwork. I do believe that the approach needs to be changed of the festival. I'll hope I get no arguments on .org that it should be about the boats and the history associated with them. Visiting vessels need to be able to make double or better then they would operating out of their home ports. The music element is nice but you can go just about anywhere and hear music acts. However you can't see 14-21 riverboats all together in one place and that's where the focus needs to be. I'm really passionate about seeing Tall Stacks and other events like it return and I do think it could be successful if pointed in the right direction. I know there are people who share my hopes of seeing it return. Time will surely tell but I'm going to continue to work behind the scenes and help however I can. Louisville and Jeffersonville have a real opportunity to shine come next fall and I hope they take every opportunity to do it right. Perhaps the Queen City could learn a thing or two. Thanks again Judy, one day I'll be calling on you for support to get the NATCHEZ back up here. Never say never.

Judy Patsch 07-16-2013 06:15 PM

I didn't say it couldn't happen without Nelson Jones. You wanted some input on problems, and his absence is certainly that. But it does not make the event impossible. As to helping get the NATCHEZ up there, no way if October continues to be the chosen month. That is her prime month, along with May, and it would be to her detriment to leave town then. August would probably be the most likely month, but even then I wouldn't bet the farm on her participation.

David Dewey 07-16-2013 11:28 PM

Just piping in from way out west, but if you want to include music, I would think it should be music related to riverboats and their history--Calliope contest (playoffs--"Dueling Calliopes"!) Banjo music, 'specially Civil War stuff, Stephen Foster type stuff, etc. IMHO, anything else is not adding to tall stacks, but adding to a music festival event (and we all know what that led too!).
But, what do I know?? (yes, I stole that quote!)
David Dewey
PS What about a "Short Stacks" meet--all the small steam launches??

inactive user 01 07-17-2013 07:55 AM

Hey David,

Agree 100% about what the music portion should be. Music of the time period. Funny you mention steam launches as they were a big part of a proposal I put together a few years ago for Tall Stacks. The African Queen was a big hit when she was here for a Tall Stacks I believe it was 1999.

Judy I understood what you meant, I guess I've heard about 100 times that without Nelson it wouldn't happen. If it did happen I think it would be a huge tribute to Nelson and he should certainly be recognized should an event take place.

Thank you both for your comments. I eagerly await more. This is good stuff!


R. Dale Flick 07-18-2013 08:17 AM

*'Tall Stacks' in limbo?*
Hi, AJ &Steamboating colleagues:
Your above combined insights/thinking RE: present fate?'/status of 'Tall Stacks' on the money. I recently went on line using my search machines and called up 'Tall Stacks,' Cincinnati, dates?' and up popped a number of web entries going back in chrohonogical order as usual. Last terse, brief posting I saw was in 2012 not revealing much. Another down the line briefly mentioned a date of 2014. Phone numbers were listed but I did not call from up here in Michigan. The TS offices, originally in Cincinnati down town, moved out to a smaller operation at 'River Bend'/Coney Island. Attempts to phone were never answered or even met with an answering machine. Names of committee members changed as fast as a game of musical chairs in an elementary school.

I've belabored this site too many times on my involvement with the first 'Tall Stacks' back in the mid 1980s [Beginning in 1984] leading up to Cincinnati's then Bictennial Celebration, 1788-1988. Indeed, a labor of love involving many meetings, long hours, writing, typing, calling by phone. All on my own time from work and my own dime, mind you. Originally our committee was simply known as 'Rivers Activities' until it grew, expanded. Judy is 100% correct about the month of October now with the Str. NATCHEZ. When all of the logistics were discussed back in the 1980s, the upper honchos had not a clue. Originally it was planned for possibly May/June. I casually mentioned the issues of possibility of river conditions etc. The upper eschelons simply thought the boats would just jump at the invitation coming here with no financial up front support. I was one of a small cadre suggesting the months of September or October. Yet, we warned the committee about the already scheduled cruises/events many of the boats had in their home ports. "Oh, we don't want to hear all that. Let's just make it happen."

In 1992 I politely bailed out at the first organizational meeting sensing the 'new' group in control [i.e. Corporate types tapped with hope to fatten their own personnel resumes] were simply starting from scratch--without reviewing all the previous plans and statistics. After moments of hemming, hawing, I reached in my portfolio and handed them the original TS proposal with added details--and that was it for me.

Indeed, the late Nelson Jones did legion work in formulating his 'Working Rivers' boat/craft display on the Kentucky side of the river. This caused green eyed envy from across the river where they wanted all the events to be based. Bill Judd also slaved on the issues and could possibly write a book. Another prime mover was Alan Bernstein of B/B RIVERBOATS. Darlene Judd also labored with her committee long hours. The late John Beatty, with his boat/crew, was deeply involved and in no uncertain words set several high level committee people with 'Tall Stacks' clearly in their places. The appearance then of the recently refurbished Str. W.P. SNYDER by John Beatty drew rave reviews as the likes of her hadn't been seen in the Cincinnati harbor for years.

As the events moved on from year to year, statistics/feed-back 'said' there should be more than just an all boat venue. This moved to high level entertainment and other venues now termed 'Tall Stacks Heritage Festival.' More diversity, food, music, related entertainment the new thinking. One huge draw was the late Rose Mary Clooney who sang along with big bands and other groups. The late John Hartford also appeared. The last TS financial report briefly mentioned "just breaking even" and I have doubts about that.

I was invited to meet with a new organizational person who was well meaning but not a clue as to the river or boats. "Well, we'll just invite all the big gambling boats to come as they can make money with cruises and their casino." Basically Cincinnati corporate money is limited with them feeling they'd been burned. Most so-called PAC funds were already marked for the then Presidential campaigns. I met several times with things just fizzling out.

There's no question that any proposed 'Tall Stacks' simply can't survive on just the old steamboat theme. That was glaringly evident in the last two events. Fascinating, interesting to many of us, but totally removed from many of the spectators as time moved on. One media quote from an attendee was, "Like watching ice melt." OUCH! The first event was a blockbuster when the then PRESIDENT [Sister of the late last ISLAND QUEEN] elicited awe and wonder]. The DQ boats were running then adding more color and interest plus revenue. Then, at another meeting I attended, I heard a TS honcho state, "We want SOMEBODY to step up and build a grand new steamboat for Cincinnati to lead the river parades in the future." A number felt like sliding off our chairs under the table. Yep, I saw a lot, learned a lot. Once was enough.

And then came the mini scandal about the profits from the concession company and where it all went with unpaid bills etc. The original 'Tall Stacks' logo came during a meeting I attended with us looking over many fine art posters from the recent 'Tall Ships' event in New York harbor. The logo/name later assumed by the new group. If you don't think some people made money from the events, then think again. Yet, I wish it well and whatever happens happens. Don't even dream of bringing the W.P. SNYDER back at this time as a 'static' display. Any volunteers here willing to haul out their check book to cover the then stated need for "seed money" as a mere $600,000 plus. I wish the city of Louisville all the best in their plans. These people may just show Cincinnati a thing or two. Well, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick
Summer: Northern shores of Lake Michigan.

inactive user 01 07-18-2013 09:38 AM

Hey Dale,

Appreciate your insight as one who's been there and done that. It really sounds like greed and the misguided have taken a stranglehold on Tall Stacks. Too much brand recognition at this point to call it something else, so the start from scratch would truly be a start from scratch. I'll wait patiently in the wings should a time come when Cincinnati and those in charge of Tall Stacks come to their senses and happily volunteer as I have in the past. Perhaps a time will come when the Delta Queen returns "home" to the Queen City and once again the masses will realize the river is why we have this fair city, instead of ignoring it and it's rich history. I'll be "on deck" in Louisville and hope to get a first hand glimpse at what they do right and what they do wrong. So far it seems their festival is very much focused on their river star! Enjoy your summer and thanks for chiming in Dale!


R. Dale Flick 07-18-2013 02:25 PM

*Just my humble two cents*
Hi, AJ & Steamboating colleagues:
Remember, what I wrote above here--and in previous postings on 'Tall Stacks'--just my point of view from experience. You know, "Been there, done that" with the scars and bruises to my credit. Any, ANY effort on this event by either Cincinnati or now Louisville, all to their credit with my best wishes. Capt. Bill Judd also has "been there..." and could no doubt share much more from his views. Other 'issues' were increasing problems with the big barge operators having to stop, tie off for many hours during some river events with 'Tall Stacks.' Logistics with river safety, boats moving about, channel safety, mosquito fleet of pleasure boats etc. something Bill Judd had to contend with from his vantage point aboard the MIKE FINK. Others could chime in, "Oh, that's just Dale. We didn't see it that way." Yeah, right. No doubt there were those who didn't like me either. Giving an opinion one thing--backing it up with data, facts a whole different story. Friendly, willing corporate sponsors in time grew weary of the begging hands stuck out. Also, corporate discretionary contributions now a whole new ball game with IRS and other needs to account for. One local old charitable foundation stated, "No grant requests accepted for boat/maritime issues or historic land structures." Their monies going to big name social, medical, educational, civic causes. 'Tall Stacks' is NOT owned now by the City of Cincinnati being independent and incorporated.

In time then 'Cincinnati Bicentennial 1788-1988' honchos came to at least 'listen' to what our 'Rivers Activities Commitee' had to say. I sort of dropped a bomb in a meeting saying, "And we will invite our neighbors across the river in Covington, Newport, Dayton, Ky. to join as they are part, aren't they?" Dead silence. In time Tom Gaylon from the Northern Kentucky Convention Bureau attended making his presence known. I worked with Mike Rozow, then with the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau in Cincinnati. Committee members would come and go, wax and wane according to their time limitations, interests. It usually always boiled down to a few as the cadre. I always laughed when new corporate men and women moved in sporting Brook's Bros. suits and $75,000 diamond rings on fingers waving in a grand manner. 'Hey, what are these people getting out of this?' I thought paying for my own parking on my own precious time.

Even representatives of then DELTA QUEEN Co. attended offering us hospitality on the DQ for meetings in the lounge or dining room before she steamed out on a trip. One in particular seemed more than a tad bored with it all there for what 'hook' the boats could get out of it. Upon leaving, shaking hands, I heard him growl, "I'll be glad when this boats pulls out of this town tonight." Again, a big OUCH! No names mentioned to protect the guilty.

Yet in retrospect it was an interesting, fascinating era from 1984 to 1988. As one honcho stated, "Ah, we're here to sell romance, music, food, boat rides." It takes big money to perpetuate steamboat romance. No, I would not do it again. And, again, well, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick
Summer: Northern shores of Lake Michigan where it's now 90 degrees and I'm jumping in the lake.

George Burch 08-19-2013 12:05 PM

Tall Stacks and the Belle's 100th
This article was in the News and Tribune on 8/13 regarding the Belle's 100th and plans that are forming in Jeffersonville, IN.

Jeffersonville Steamboat Days to relaunch in conjunction with Belle’s 100thTuesday, August 13, 2013

Jeffersonville Steamboat Days to relaunch in conjunction with Belle

Perhaps there is some traction occurring?

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