Steady rain fails to put a damper on downtown rock festival

By Robert Guttersohn


Despite the sporadic rainfall in the Mahoning Valley on Sunday, thousands of waterlogged rock fans still filled downtown’s streets for the eighth-annual Vex Fest.

“People are already wet, so they’re thinking it doesn’t really matter,” said Kate Butlers, 27 from Pittsburgh. She stood under a overhang attempting to keep dry her Rusty Waters T-shirts representing the grit of Rust Belt cities Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Youngstown. She and Adam Chizmar started the business in 2005 and have sold T-shirts at every Vex Fest since.

Organizer Jason Tibolla said the numbers were relatively high today despite the rain because the event is free.

“It’s extremely important to keep it free,” he said, pointing up at the sky. “It’s raining in downtown Youngstown yet there’s a couple thousand people down here.”

The event has changed over the years and expanded. The event drew 5,000 people in 2003 and 8,000 in 2010, Tibolla said. It added a fifth stage this year to the event. It draws larger crowds as the festival organizers open its stages to more genres, something Tibolla said, caused a rift with local heavy metal fans. This year featured R&B artist Diamond Nicole.

“It was originally a heavy concert and now it is a multi-faceted music festival,” he said.

Vexfest continues on West Federal Street in downtown Youngstown until about 2 a.m. Monday.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on

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