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Flyway Part 2 (Sit Down With Festival Director)

After the festivities concluded, I had a chance to sit down with the festivals founder, Rick Vaicius, to discuss with him how he felt the festival turned out, what it takes to coordinate an event such as this, and where he sees the festival headed in the future.

Vasicius passion for film came when he was a college student at the University of Minnesota. He would stuff envelopes for the owner of the Rivertown Theatre, David Lee, in exchange for free admission to the independent films that were screened the theatre. He founded the film program for the Lake Pepin Art and Design Center, which screened independent films at the gallery twice a month, and later spawned the creation of the Flyway Film Festival. Although he dreams of one day directing the festival as a full time job, for now all Vaicius’s work with the festival is voluntary.
The festival is young but growing. This year was the first time Vaiscius attempted to do multiple venues, expanding the screenings to the town of Stockholm in addition to those in Pepin. The feedback he’s received from the community has been positive, “The community has been outstanding. I had conversations with multiple business owners in Stockholm. Everybody bas been very encouraging in wanting to work with us to logistically figure out how, especially the restaurant owners, how to serve film festival goers.”

With the backing of the community, Vaicius says he envisions growing the festival even further, “I’d like to grow the festival. I’d love to see it have venues all the way around Lake Pepin and all the communities. Maybe there would be things that would screen in Red Wing, there would be things that would screen in Lake City, Wabasha, Nelson, Maiden Rock, and you know just get it all the way around the lake.”
Vaicius said that putting together the festival has been a year round commitment. He says only those who are close to him know the extent to how much work it really is. Friends and family have helped him along the way; his wife Nancy also plays a big role in coordinating the event. Friends of his have volunteered to help out in the running of the festival as well as tackling the monumental task of selecting the lineup from over 400 entries. After taking a few months off after the festival concludes, the grueling process will start over again in January, when the entries start coming in.

Looking back on the week’s festivities, Vaicius felt very satisfied overall with the festivals turnout. He said there was a good turnout from festivalgoer’s, both locally and abroad. A panel that included Vaicius and three others selected the winners of the festival.

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