The Herald Bulletin

September 15, 2012

Walking Manifestival brings thousands to downtown Anderson

By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Savannah Hagan had seen many of the Walking Man statues throughout town and stopped to visit many, but Saturday she was creating her very own — Hippie Man.

The 12-year-old Anderson girl had come to the Walking Manifestival — the eight-hour event featuring 23 bands, artists, businesses and nonprofits — with parents Brent and Jeni Hagan. She was participating in one of several children’s activities by designing her own Walking Man. Hers was tie-dyed featuring a peace sign in the center.

“I think the whole thing is pretty cool,” Savannah said, concentrating hard on her masterpiece, the melodic notes of a band drifting by. “It was a lot of fun because I got to spend a lot of time with my mom and dad to see them all.”

Brent and Jeni Hagan said the project was a great way to get local residents not only engaged in their community by visiting businesses they’d never been before, but also it was a great way to get people interested in art.

“It gets people out of their comfort zone, out to places maybe they’ve never been before or wouldn’t have gone to otherwise,” Jeni Hagan said.

Walking Man artists Cindy Fox and Wendy Otto — with Double Action Twin Airbrushing — echoed that sentiment saying it was a great way for people to go to businesses they may not have even heard of before. The two together created “A Great Loss to Indiana,” “Forever Young,” “The Fabricator” and “Casino Man.”

“It was great fun,” Fox said. “I’d do it again next year.”

Both were happy with the outcome at Saturday’s festival — which had hundreds of people filling Meridian Street between Ninth and 13th streets — between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“This project was a great way for people to see the diversity of local artists,” Otto said. “There is a lot of talent in this community. And I think it also will help bring out people’s creativity.”

Artist and project creator Levi Rinker said he was very happy with the outcome of the Walking Man Project and said the festival had been a success.

“Look at all these people in downtown Anderson,” he said, grinning. “There are so many smiles, so much positive energy. It gives me a great energy too.”

But Rinker said it will be tough to say goodbye to many of the statues. While some were purchased by their sponsors, many of the statues were up for bids. Three statues were sold during the silent auction. He said they will continue to pursue finding buyers for the remaining statues.

“This project got people with creative ideas who had a love, passion and vision together and moving in one direction,” he said. “So many people got involved. I’m hoping people are inspired by Walking Man and leave with a feeling of home for the city.”

Tim Allred of Tim Allred’s Collision Center sponsored two statues — “Walking with My Best Friend” parts 1 and 2 — as well as creating a dog, Lily, to go with the Walking Man couple. He and family designed and painted the statues as well.

When Allred first heard of the project he knew it was one he wanted to get involved in as he not only has a love for art but also for promoting Anderson.

“I care about Anderson and wanted to be involved in something that is trying to help bring Anderson back,” he said. “I think the project is great for local businesses and Anderson. Thank you so much to Levi Rinker for creating this and all the businesses and the city of Anderson for supporting it.”

Allred said they saw an increase in business and expected to continue to reap benefits. He said he hoped more businesses would get involved in future endeavors.

“It’s so great to see the town come together to get involved and support something,” Allred said.

The event featured bands on three different stages along Meridian Street. During one of the morning performances, Tom Evans, lead singer for a Christian rock band called Changed, reportedly had a heart attack and was taken to a local hospital by ambulance.

Rinker praised quick work by emergency responders who were nearby when Evans collapsed. He said family told him that Evans was sitting up and talking in his hospital bed later Saturday.

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.