Since the leaders of the Rotary Club of the Jeffersons made the difficult decision to discontinue coordination of the annual Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention scholarship fundraiser, the search has been on to locate another group to host the event.
“We’re all committed to the event and want to see it continue,” said Cameron Keziah, current Rotary Club of the Jeffersons president.
Unless an organization is willing to pick up the mantle from the Rotary Club, the final Ashe County Fiddlers Convention will be held next weekend at Ashe County Park.
The club announced its decision earlier this month after making a determination its resources could be better channelled into other ventures that could increase it contributions to local scholars seeking financial assistance.
When it announced its decision, it asked for local charitable groups to consider taking over the coordination of the event.
Since then, said Keziah, several individuals have expressed an interest in learning more.
In response to this, the club leadership has put together a “set of instructions” on pulling off a successful event. In addition, if a group decides to take over the event, members of the club will offer whatever guidance is needed to insure the torch is passed successfully.
“We’d be glad to help,” said Keziah about offering assistance. “We’re not going to leave (the group) high and dry. We’re all committed to making sure the event continues,” he said.
Those instructions offer what the club has learned during its 43 years of hosting the event by estimating the manpower hours needed and the minimal budget needed for promotions and operating the concessions, its primary means of generating money.
For those organizations considering hosting the event, the primary consideration is whether or not it can actually make enough money to cover its set up and operation with something left over.
Former Rotary President Josh Roten said that while there have been some years that have been “break even,” usually impacted by “monsoon” type weather, historically the event has been a moneymaker for the club.
“It is an outdoor event and the weather will play a role in the outcome,” said Roten.
In the past, the concessions have been used as the primary source of income during the event. However, over the years, Roten said the club has sold t-shirts and at one point in the past even rented vendor space for crafters.
He also said that over the last few years, several regional fiddlers conventions had been discontinued. Those events that have been discontinued will afford an opportunity to attract additional people drawn to the bluegrass and old time music culture.
Roten also offered a general breakdown of the amount of time needed to organize the event.
He said the planning begins about six months out and during the last six weeks before the show, tying up loose ends becomes the focus.
As for the amount of manpower needed, Roten said that it is a community event, and that groups and county agencies can offer assistance, like the Junior ROTC from the high school, and the county’s parks and recreation department. He added, however, their assistance must be requested in advance.
“It’s not just us doing (the event), but it is a community effort,” said Roten.
For any group interested, Roten and Keziah suggested contacting them prior to the event next weekend.
That will allow interested individuals to “shadow” the organizers.
“That will allow anyone a chance to ask questions and see how to get together a plan for next year,” said Roten.
The Ashe County Fiddlers Convention will be held on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3.
If interested in hosting the event, email Keziah at firstname.lastname@example.org.