The second festival, in 1978, was moved about
a block west from it's original "downtown in the street" location
to the City Park gazebo. The bluegrass festival had found a home.
STAR - MARCH 8, 1978
Cold Fail To Thwart Bluegrass Success
not without its tribulations, the Second Annual Auburndale
Bluegrass Festival and Open Fiddlers' Contest, dubbed the Florida
State Championship, was "definitely a success" in the words
of Bruce Canova, Auburndale city manager and logistical coordinator
of the event.
broke even - maybe made a little money and that was
the best we had hoped for this year anyhow," Canova
enthusiasm could not have been predicted at 6 p.m.
Saturday, which was probably. the low point of the
severe rains held the crowd to practically nothing
Friday night and eventually forced the festival to
bitter cold kept the crowd to a minimum Saturday afternoon
high winds forced two of the three ping-pong ball drops
to fall wide of the target - what little crowd there
was in the City Park.
A "revenooer" showed
up to look for temporary food-handling licenses required
of all concession stands by Florida law.
statute caught most of the concessionaires by surprise
and the combination of frustration and disappointment
at the poor weather and small crowds (no more than
1500 on Saturday) plus the sense of injustice at forcing
tax-exempt, charitable organizations to pay $18.50
to the state for a concession stand in Auburndale,
brought tempers to a head.
were many, at that point, who were ready to forget
the entire festival and give up in disgust.
the weather remained frigid Saturday the festival struggled
on through. the night -much to the delight of 300 or
so diehard bluegrass addicts - and jam sessions could
be found in every store. entrance along East Park Street.
and pleasure in music was rewarded as Sunday dawned
bright and warm and bluegrass fans assembled on the
City Park grounds early and stayed late.
crowd, denied the pleasure of good music in the comfort
of sunshine and foliage for two days refused to let
the festival stop at 5 p.m. as scheduled.
of the crowd ranged from 3,000 to 7,000 with most experienced
observers putting it at the lower end of the spectrum
and festival promoter Carl Allen - Florida's "Number
One Cracker" opting for the higher figure.
counted and. since there was no admission charge, there
were no ticket stubs to verify the count "We were happy
with the crowd, whatever it was," Canova said.
while talk centered around the relative success or
failure of the Festival as an event, for the musicians,
it was a serious contest for the Florida State Championship.
50 bands entered the contest and several more showed
up, but. according to Allen, decided not to enter when
they heard the quality of music from some of the contestants.
believe that's the best bunch of bands I've seen in
any contest anywhere." Allen was quoted in another
that point of view, the Florida Championship was a
success since both titles remained in Polk County.
Bluegrass Pioneers, composed of musicians from Auburndale
and Tampa, took the $1,000 first prize and the championship
trophy for bluegrass bands.
Fletcher of Haines City won the fiddler's trophy and
$300 first prize.
of the bad weather, Allen has said that he hopes to
schedule the event for April next year.
as last year, the crowds (even on Sunday) caused practically
no safety or security problems for Auburndale police.
A couple minor thefts and one incident of vandalism
were reported but the predicted traffic jams never
occurred. "They are well-behaved people anyway," said
Allen Hobbs, Auburndale police chief, "They're a bunch
of good People."
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