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Rushville Community Spotlight bannerRUSHVILLE: Build It and They Will Come

Rushville, Indiana (Pop. 6,341)
June 2014 | Re-ran and updated April 2, 2015
Rushville was one of four recipients of the 2014 Primacy of Place Community Awards through Ball State University’s Primacy of Place Initiative.  VIDEO

Photo provided with 2014 PoPCAP applicationAfter attending a music festival in a neighboring community, then city councilman (now Rushville mayor) Mike Pavey asked, “Why can’t we do that in Rushville?” In less than six months, Pavey and other Rushville residents mobilized Rushville city government, businesses and residents to build an outdoor amphitheater and host a summer series of concerts. Since the first concert in the summer of 2005, the amphitheater has hosted more than 65,450 concert-goers at 57 concerts featuring a diverse line-up of local, regional, national and international performers, including John Waite and The Georgia Satellites. This year, Rushville will host the 80’s rock icon Stephen Pearcy, the voice of Ratt.

Rushville went from concept to implementation in six months, which begs the question, “how did they do it?” Location was an important factor, and Rushville had the perfect place. Riverside Park has a colorful history of providing racing entertainment – from horse and pony to dirt-track automobiles – for Rush County residents, out-of-town visitors, and even famed 3-time Indy 500 winner Walter Shaw. With the land secure, the Riverside Park Organizing Committee (RPOC) was formed to secure time, resources. and commitment from local residents and businesses to make the amphitheater a reality.    

Photo provided to the PoPCAP 2014 applicationOne of the biggest concerns was money – city coffers were limited and skepticism was high. Through perseverance and dedication, RPOC members ignited a vision that caught flame throughout the community. Committee members designed the amphitheater as a replica of the South Main Street Covered Bridge, which had been located nearby. Emerald Group Construction supervised and oversaw the assembly at no cost. Local businesses donated money and labor. Individual Rushville residents picked up hammers and went to work. These efforts resulted in minimal taxpayer dollars being spent. The crew was united by the mantra, “Build it and they will come.”    

And come they have. In addition to thousands of concert-goers each summer, the amphitheater has drawn a variety of individual and business sponsors who help to keep the series free. Vendors provide refreshments and a beer-garden for the over 21 crowd. The amphitheater also is home to other events such as wedding receptions, class reunions, car shows, and non-profit fundraisers. The success of the facility has led to further development of Riverside Park, including a haunted hayride, new walking trails, a nine-hole Frisbee golf course, and a boat launch to allow canoeing and kayaking the river; these all support Rush County’s wellness efforts.   

click to watch PoPCAP winner's videoToday, the Riverside Park Organizing Committee continues to “stimulate, promote, preserve and expand social, historic, cultural and economic well-being through music and arts” in Rushville. The success of this project has bred further volunteerism and pride in the community, and the number of sponsors and supporters continues to grow. Rushville has demonstrated what passion, dedication, and collaboration can accomplish in an Indiana town.  

For more information about the Rushville Amphitheater, visit the Facebook page or contact Carolyn Bunzendahl, Rush County Economic & Community Development Corporation. Additional best practice resources can be found on Ball State’s Primacy of Place website.   

Be sure to check out the 2015 Riverside Park Amphitheater Concert Series:
Saturday, June 13th – Stephen Pearcy Legendary Voice of Ratt
Saturday, July 11th – The Soul Pocket Bank (Motown)
Saturday, July 25th – The Ultimate Garth Brooks Tribute Show (featuring Shawn Gerhard)
Saturday, August 1st – Ten – A Tribute to Pearl Jam
Saturday, August 15th – Vicious Cycle – A Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute
Saturday, August 22nd – The High Kings – Irish
Saturday, September 19th – Pink Droyd – Pink Floyd Tribute with Laser Light Show

10 in 10 map Rushville

This post was a part of Ball State’s 2014 “Ten Communities in Ten Weeks” series highlighting ten Indiana cities and towns that are committed to promoting quality of life for their residents, businesses and visitors.

Through its Primacy of Place initiative, Ball State University is committed to helping Indiana communities that desire to strengthen their local economies by putting human interests at the center of economic development.

Follow us on Twitter @BallStateBBC, share your own placemaking projects at, and sign up for our bi-monthly Primacy of Place Updates.
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