Buddy Ebsen fans want to honor Belleville native

News-DemocratJune 8, 2013 

Lynn Venhaus had the Aha! moment when she realized that Belleville should honor native son Buddy Ebsen.

Now she has to somehow get to the Ahh! moment when everything comes off as planned.

It's like in the Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland movies when Andy Hardy used to proclaim that they should put on a show.

Someone had to plan that show. In the movies it was some poor writers. Andy just had to perform.

In real life, for the Buddy Fest, no one is sure yet who the writers are going to be.

But some people got together Thursday night to start figuring things out.

Venhaus was there because she had the idea, she loves being active in the arts in the region and apparently enjoys the stress of such a big project.

Renowned radio personality Tom Calhoun volunteered to help. Local TV personality Norm Greenberg was there to offer advice. Larry Betz offered any help the Belleville Historic Society could give, including the potential of tying the Buddy Fest in with the Walk of Fame of prominent Bellevillians that the society is touting.

There are important questions to be answered. How big is the festival? What will it include? When? Where? How? How much? Should they seek partners, for example, the brand-new Brew & Que from this weekend?

And maybe most importantly, why?

"I know I'm here to see that his memory and what he's done doesn't go away," Calhoun said. "We don't have much of anything but an idea. No formal organization. No money. No specific place. It's certainly wide open."

Venhaus noted that she had gotten a lot of calls of support after the idea appeared in this column.

"People seem enthused," she said.

Now the trick is to turn that enthusiasm into action, perhaps by the summer of 2014 when Belleville also will be celebrating its bicentennial.

Ebsen was a star in a number of ways. He was the sidekick in the popular Davy Crockett series. He was the iconic Jed Clampett in "The Beverly Hillbillies." He was "Barnaby Jones." He also was featured in a number of motion pictures.

Greenberg noted that there were so many big ideas that would require big money and many people. Everyone agreed they need structure and a calendar.

They also need a Facebook page, which is in the works.

The next meeting for anyone interested will be at 7 p.m., June 27 at Lindenwood College-Belleville in the main conference room.

To volunteer ideas or anything else, you can call Venhaus on her cellphone at 618-917-8175 or email her at lvenhaus@charter.net.

Have a column idea? Call Wally Spiers at 618-239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: wspiers@bnd.com.

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