FESTIVAL #2:  March 3-5, 1978

Festival #2


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.


'Revenooer,' Cold Fail To Thwart Bluegrass Success

Although 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.
"We broke even - maybe made a little money and that was the best we had hoped for this year anyhow," Canova said.
Canova's enthusiasm could not have been predicted at 6 p.m. Saturday, which was probably. the low point of the festival.
After severe rains held the crowd to practically nothing Friday night and eventually forced the festival to close early...
And bitter cold kept the crowd to a minimum Saturday afternoon ...
And 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.
The 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.
There were many, at that point, who were ready to forget the entire festival and give up in disgust.
Although 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.
Faith 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.
The 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.
Estimates 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.
Nobody 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.
And 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.
About 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.
"I believe that's the best bunch of bands I've seen in any contest anywhere." Allen was quoted in another newspaper.
From that point of view, the Florida Championship was a success since both titles remained in Polk County.
The Bluegrass Pioneers, composed of musicians from Auburndale and Tampa, took the $1,000 first prize and the championship trophy for bluegrass bands.
Horace Fletcher of Haines City won the fiddler's trophy and $300 first prize.
Because of the bad weather, Allen has said that he hopes to schedule the event for April next year.
Just 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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