Lucy’s Livin’ Large

As it turns out, a lot of people still love Lucy.

Approximately 13,000 attendees from 37 states helped to make the 2014 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival the biggest one yet.

The unprecedented number of ticket sales for this year’s festival led to a 45.2 percent increase in gross sales over last year’s festival, setting a new record for the annual comedy week held in downtown Jamestown. Since its conception in 1991, the comedy festival has maintained an upward trend of annually attracting more visitors to Jamestown for the past 23 years. Bolstered by headliners such as Jay Leno, Tom Cotter, Kerri Louise and Caroline Rhea, the festival is continually upping the ante in terms of drawing a crowd and bringing nationally renowned comedic icons to the city.

According to Journey Gunderson, executive director of the Lucy-Desi Museum and Center for Comedy, the tradition of bringing quality entertainment to the area has helped the festival develop a reputation as a legitimate venue with national implications.

“Each year, we’ve grown in magnitude and scope both in programming and attendance draw,” Gunderson said. “It’s about the quality of the programming and the names involved, but also the momentum of putting on a good festival each year has more and more people coming back. And people always leave feeling like it was worth coming out for, which is just one more thing that has led to our growth year after year.”

In addition to its star-studded line up in terms of entertainment, this year’s festival also featured a larger and more densely packed activities schedule that had at least one activity held at any one time during each hour of the five-day event.

Three nights of late-night comedy took place, and a live comedy album was recorded by San Francisco-based Rooftop Comedy for a second consecutive year. Featured comedians performing at night and during free comedy happy hours included Sean Donnelly, Chet Wild, Rick Matthews, Jarwan Nelson, Emma Willmann, Mike Brody, Pete Lee, Mike Cody and Tony Deyo.

A free Lucy Fashion Show with Emmy Award-winning costume designer Ret Turner, sponsored by the Dykeman Young Gallery and Vintage Emporium, featured 10 new Lucy-inspired dresses, and the launch of a brand new Vintage Boutique fashion line available online at www.shop.lucy-desi.com.

The festival was also a key topic of conversation during a groundbreaking ceremony that was held outside the Jamestown Gateway Train Station on Saturday for the development of Comedy Center Park along the Chadakoin River. Building the park is the first phase in the development of Jamestown’s proposed National Comedy Center, which is to be located at the intersection of Washington and Second streets where a Jamestown BPU substation currently resides. Comedy Center Park is expected to be completed by the end of October.

The National Comedy Center, projected to open in 2016 in Jamestown, is planned as a multi-media complex providing a personalized celebration of all forms of comedy; and a portion of proceeds from the annual Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy will go toward the funding of its construction.

For more information on the 2014 Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy, visit www.lucycomedyfest.com. For more information on the Lucy-Desi Museum and Center for Comedy or the forthcoming National Comedy Center, visit www.lucy-desi.com.