From: Margaret Shaw Johnson and
Thanks to Taff Roberts for the work he did on the “Rockwell Kent in Winona Festival.” It was an amazing accomplishment…one which took Winona to a whole new level of high quality visitor arts events. The festival was unique for many reasons.
First, this event brought people here from all over the country and beyond, from as far away as Newfoundland, to participate in an arts event. People from New York and all over the east coast, from Texas, from California and many other states now know about Winona: a small city in the Midwest that is serious about art, theater, history, academics, literature and culture.
For another thing, it was one of the broadest community collaborations that we have ever enjoyed here. With a citizen committee at its head…a committee selected and convened by Taff, it brought together many community organizations in a common purpose: to celebrate the work of world-renowned artist and writer Rockwell Kent and the fascinating time that he spent in Winona in 1913-1914. Both Winona State University and St. Mary’s University of Winona participated, as did the City of Winona, the Winona Public Library, Visit Winona and The Winona County Historical Society. The Minnesota Marine Art Museum was a huge contributor, too, as was Theatre du Mississippi. Boats & Bluegrass, The Great River Shakespeare Festival and the Frozen River Film Festival all participated, as did scores of individual volunteers, from program presenters to web designers, from photographers to tour bus guides. Hospitality was extended by local restaurants and hotels. Funding was provided by generous individuals, institutions and foundations and media coverage was extraordinary.
But our aim here is not to list all those who truly deserve thanks. It is to point out that this was a complicated, multi-faceted venture and not many could have pulled it all together. We don’t know that anyone in Winona has ever done anything nearly as comprehensive or complex as this before. Taff was an unlikely candidate for this job. He has many talents, but to our knowledge, he hasn’t been known as an event coordinator nor is that his experience. Still, driven by his passion for the work of Rockwell Kent and his belief in Winona and all of us who are privileged to live here, he made it happen. And he did a stellar job.
Thank you, Taff. And thanks to Anne Scott Plummer for all of her support. You have done something wonderful for Winona and for all of us. Even Rockwell Kent, we’re sure, would be impressed!