Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rocky Ripple: its festival, and No. 1 issue

Last Saturday's rendition of the annual Rocky Ripple Festival in Indianapolis was about more than sullying wedding gowns, which I wrote about in yesterday's post.

The community did a nice job to throw a fun time for all ages -- offering food, live music, activities for kids, and a variety of arts and crafts vendors displaying and selling their wares. All of this was in a modest neighborhood, a nook, actually, consisting of about 200 homes bordered on the west and north by White River, on the east by the Central Canal and on the south by Butler University. It is reachable by vehicular traffic only by West 52nd and 53rd streets, which have bridges over the canal.

Hohlt Park, site of the festival, is also modest in size, but it packs a lot within its borders -- a well-kept playground, a sand volleyball court (used as a very large sandbox for kids on festival day), a pavilion and, perhaps its most interesting feature, the Burkhardt Community Garden. Residents of the neighborhood donate funds for garden upkeep, participate in its maintenance and share its contents.

But despite its modest means, Rocky Ripple is an incorporated town and deals with serious issues. Right now, the top issue there is flood protection, alluded to in the lead-off photo above by the sign "Save Rocky Ripple" planted alongside the landscaped welcome to Hohlt Park. On Saturday, residents solicited festival-goers to support the community's objection to being excluded from protection in a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to build a $14.4 million four-foot-tall levee along Westfield Boulevard on the east side of the canal. The levee would protect the nearby Butler-Tarkington, Broad Ripple and Warfleigh neighborhoods -- but not Rocky Ripple -- from any White River flooding.

Ironically, Rocky Ripple was included in the plan when it was proposed in the early 1990s, but the community's Town Council decided to opt out of it in 1996, so the Corps moved on to pursue it without Rocky Ripple. The town has since had a change of heart, even though it claims it has never been flooded. They just don't want there to ever be a first time. But the Corps said it would cost more than double -- $35 million total -- to build it in its original form and feels that spending that much more for protecting only 200 extra homes is not cost-efficient.

It turns out that the plan also is not well-received by other interests. Butler-Tarkington residents don't like the fact that the levee would block their residents' view of the canal, and Butler University is concerned that the current plan leaves its Holcomb Gardens vulnerable to serious flood damage.

In addition to all that, building a levee on the east side of the canal would leave the canal itself vulnerable to contamination by river floodwater. That's crucial because Citizens Water utility draws nearly 60 percent of its drinking supply from Central Canal and estimates that any canal contamination by flooding also would interrupt sanitary sewer service to about 5,000 customers.

Thankfully, on Saturday there were plenty of amusements to keep attention temporarily off such weighty subjects. There were the craft beer and wine booth, brat sandwiches and roasted corn-on-the-cob, and live music which, at quitting time, had festival-goers dancing on the grass in front of the stage. Throughout the day, kids frolicked in the sand, on the playground and at the swing set and enjoyed blowing huge bubbles using solutions and wands available in several small inflatable pools not far from the sand. Adult-types also dipped into some bubble fun as well.

Above and below: Brats were grilled for the service line (below) in the park's pavilion.

Above: The corn-roasting area.

 Above and below: Kids and adults alike enjoyed the bubble-making amusement.

 Above: Kids used the volleyball court as a sandbox ... and a tumbling mat.

Above: Kids also utilized the festival's bike parking facility.

 Above: The signature display at the red sweater booth.

 Above and next several below: More views of the arts and crafts booths.

The woman in the above photo was working in the Bat Houses Sold Here booth (below), dancing to the rhythms coming from the music stage a short distance away.

Above: Ward Degler of Zionsville was selling oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, notes and cards from a booth next to that of the Indy Meetup Photo Club (below), where club member Sarah Crail was setting up before the festival opened at 11 a.m.

Above: Some of my photographs on display in the photo club's booth.

Above and next several below: CW & the Working Class Trio, featuring a fourth performer, opened the live music schedule. 

 Above and next three below: More images from the vendors selling their arts and crafts at the festival. 

Above: Off the park grounds, some of the neighborhood residents were sporting their wares for sale.

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