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Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew

Madison’s only Main Street festival
set to return on Oct. 12

Daylong event features musical acts on three stages

(October 2019) – –Indiana’s 2013 State Fingerstyle Guitar winner is coming to the stage at Madison, Ind.’s Soup, Stew, Chili and Brew festival. Kade “Pickin” Puckett brings 30 years of experience and his repertoire of original songs to delight the crowds on Main Street. It has been said that Soup, Stew Chili and Brew is the favorite, family-friendly festival. It has a totally different atmosphere, with a lot of community participation. Everyone has fun doing it, and the music makes it happen, organizers say.

Photo provided

Fingerstyle guitarist Kade “Pickin” Puckett is scheduled to perform at Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew on Oct. 12 in Madison, Ind.

Rusty Bladen, Music Committee Chair for the past nine years, said he loves doing it all – working with the musicians and performing. It is an all-day thing for him. This year, he has secured Puckett, plus 10 additional performers or groups to fill three stages from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The continuous live music provides both entertainment and background ambience to this fall fundraising event, sponsored by the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. Non-profit organizations set up booths to sell many delicious foods, including soup, stew and chili or to offer fun activities.
“This year, the expanded Grote Kids Zone options include six inflatables, face painting and a clown-making balloon creations. Kids can play endlessly after the purchase of a $10 wristband. Parental supervision is required. The Corn Hole Tournament starts at noon on West Street,” said Lindsay Bloos, the chamber’s executive director.
The Madison Community Players Stage will be located near the Comfort Station. The Red Bicycle Stage will be across from the Red Bicycle Hall. The Ivy Tech Stage will be located in front of City Hall.
“This festival has the distinction of being the only Main Street festival. The performers are primarily local talent. For this size of community, we are pretty fortunate to have plenty of talent,” Bladen said.
“Kade Puckett has a great reputation as immensely talented guitar player,” Bladen continued. Puckett’s first performance in Madison will start on the Red Bicycle Stage at 3:15 p.m.
Growing up, Puckett played the drums for a few years, but guitars were always around. Both his father and his grandpa played the guitar. They had the same specific technique, using a thumb-pick. Puckett explained that many people use a flat pick, which is held between the thumb and finger. The thumb-pick clips onto the thumb. The difference is, with the thumb-pick, the bass and the beat are played with the thumb-pick, and the melody is played with the fingers. The thumb does a “boom-chick” pattern, he said. Merle Travis and Chet Adkins use this technique.
Puckett, 47, graduated from Shakamak High School in Jasonville, Ind. He called it an “itty-bitty place,” 30 minutes from Terre Haute. “The year I moved there, they built the world’s largest yo-yo. The next year, 1991, we built the world’s largest, loudest guitar. It was listed in the Guinness Book of Records. It took six people to play it.” Dick Clark bought it for his Bandstand Bar and Grill in Indianapolis.
Mostly, Puckett plays by ear. He did learn to read music and played a little piano, because his mother’s side of the family were all piano players. He has played in Nashville, Tenn., but now mostly plays closer to his Linton, Ind., home.
Puckett doesn’t use a set playlist. He likes to go on the fly, starting with a “wild prelude of guitar music to get everyone rolling.” He has so many songs, he tells stories, and then sings some more. “I just like to have fun with it. That’s how I got to this point. I play so much that I can go anywhere with the music. I like keeping things fresh, always developing my own things. You have to be yourself – be different.”
He has been a full-time musician for the last 12 years, playing at a variety of venues and events.
Bladen not only schedules the musicians. He also helps them set up and tear down between performances. This year, for the first time, he has the help of a volunteer. Bladen, 59, has been a full-time musician since 1981. He will be performing from 2-3 p.m. on the Ivy Tech Stage. He learned to play on a six-string acoustic guitar. He also plays a 12-string guitar, harmonica, mandolin and a unique three-string cigar box. The cigar box is special because it was hand-made by his cousin, Tom Montgomery, who died two years ago.
Bladen has recorded nine original albums, some with John Mellencamp’s band. Bladen’s song, “Ride That River,” was included in the soundtrack for the 2001 movie, “Madison,” about the 1971 Madison Gold Cup race when driver Jim McCormick won it in the hometown hydroplane race boat Miss Madison. Bladen describes his style as “Midwest homegrown rock and roll.”  
The beer and wine gardens have seating and are located directly across from the music stages. Visitors to the beer gardens operated by the Moose Family Center ,and the Red Bicycle Hall will have to stay inside the designated areas.
“For the first time, drinks purchased from the Mad Paddle Brewery or Thomas Family Winery may be carried outside of the designated areas because both vendors have festival licenses to sell the products they make themselves,” Bloos explained.

This year, the ticket stations will accept both cash and credit cards. Tickets are required for all purchases because no cash transactions are allowed at vendor’s booths. Two ATM machines are available. First Financial Bank’s ATM is at the corner of Jefferson and Third streets. German American’s ATM is at the corner of Main and Walnut streets. Maps, menus and other festival information is available online at www.MadisonSoupStew.com and on Facebook.

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