Castleton concerts founder leaves on sour note
By Darren Marcy
Staff Writer | July 09,2014
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
A crowd listens to Satin & Steel perform Tuesday at the Castleton State College Pavilion as part of the Castleton Summer Concert Series.
CASTLETON — For the first time in 18 years, the Castleton concerts are hitting the stage every Tuesday night without Dick Nordmeyer.
The man who started Castleton Concerts on the Green in 1996 stepped away this year, saying the concert series he started was moving in a direction he didn’t like and he “resigned as a matter of principle.”
A few years ago, Nordmeyer realized he needed help due to his advancing age. He went to Castleton State College and asked for assistance with the concerts and the college agreed.
CSC spokesman Jeff Weld said the college, as part of the community, has always been part of the concert series, offering assistance such as rain locations and technical assistance.
“He requested our help,” Weld said. “He wanted to make sure the concert series continued to thrive. It was a simple and welcomed transition for us. The partnership was great in our eyes.”
But Nordmeyer said there were issues from the beginning.
He chose his words carefully in an interview, saying he didn’t want to bad-mouth the college.
But he said the way things played out in the past couple of years, his attitudes have ranged from disappointed to angry.
He said that when he ran the concerts, he took pride in making sure everything was done right and on time. He said a popular band once told him that Castleton Concerts on the Green was the best concert series in the state.
“I was passionate about it and it was a priority with me,” Nordmeyer said. “To them, it’s just another event. I had certain principles I built the concerts on and I was proud of the success of our concert series and on doing it the right way … what the Castleton community deserved.”
The focus of Nordmeyer’s disappointment, he said, was in the details.
“They don’t do things on time, they’re taking it a different direction, they’ve changed the name, and they’ve moved it from the green,” he said. “It was just a good, little family oriented New England style thing.”
Now called the Castleton Summer Concert Series, the Tuesday night events are held at the pavilion on the CSC campus.
“People have told me it’s just not the same,” Nordmeyer said, adding that the acoustics are different.
But Weld said the concerts are still held where the audience is on grass. People set up chairs and blankets on the lawn outside the pavilion unless it rains.
Then the stage is moved under the roof and people can sit under cover without moving to another location.
Nordmeyer also took issue with the kinds of bands selected. But one of the things that bothered him a lot was how community nonprofit fundraising seemed to be supplanted by college fundraising.
He said the Boy Scouts once sold food at the event, but now it’s the college food service.
And 50/50 raffle profits once benefited Make-A-Wish, Special Olympics, the library, the battered women’s shelter, Castleton Women’s Club and others, he said.
“Now it’s the softball team, the lacrosse team …” Nordmeyer said. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, you can’t cut all these people out.’”
He said they tied the Castleton Alumni Association’s fundraiser with the Satin & Steel performance.
“That’s one of the bigger concerts,” Nordmeyer said. “You’d have to be blind not to see what’s going on there.”
He decided he had seen enough.
Nordmeyer said he received a big shock when he sent a letter to the people he had worked with over the years to thank them for their support and announce that he would no longer be associated with the concert series.
He had been a paid contractor at the college, teaching an elderly-fitness swimming class at the college, but was told by Scott Dikeman, CSC’s dean of administration, that he could no longer work at the college.
“I went to see Scott and he said ‘We can’t have people around who bad-mouth the college,’” Nordmeyer said. “He said, ‘Dick, you burned your bridges.’”
Dikeman could not be reached Tuesday evening.
Weld said he couldn’t discuss personnel issues and wouldn’t talk about Nordmeyer’s claim, but he praised Nordmeyer for his work on the concert series.
“Without Dick, that concert series would not be what it is,” Weld said. “His leadership and passion … he had a real vision of what he wanted that concert series to be. I think it still is.”
He said CSC hasn’t heard any complaints and is working to continue the concerts for the community.
“I think the concert series continues to be a mainstay of the town and a thriving event,” Weld said. “It’s certainly not dying and in our view it’s not a point of contention.”
Nordmeyer doesn’t see everything as negative, adding that the college put a vast array of talents to work on the concert series from promotions to publications to events staff.
He said part of his regret is that he had envisioned retiring and going out on top, possibly at the end of the 20th season in 2016.
But, he’s come to terms with that now.
“I didn’t get to go out the way I wanted,” Nordmeyer said. “But I’m doing fine and I’m moving on. It was just a hobby. But I put a lot of time into it.”
His wife, Elaine Nordmeyer, said she’s disappointed for her husband who she said put a lot into the events and never was reimbursed for expenses.
“But it gave Dick a great deal of satisfaction,” she said.
They have a lot more time together, something Dick Nordmeyer is grateful for.
“I had a good run,” he said. “It was fun while it lasted.”