Festival #5:  April 24, 25, 1981

  The News Chief - Sunday, April 28, 1981

Bluegrass festival fun despite no-shows

News Chief Staff

Dave Maynard of Tampa and Martin Decato of Lakeland jam a little on the banjo while waiting for their turn to perform during the annual Auburndale Florida State Bluegrass championships

AUBURNDALE - The first place prize may have been double that of last year's, but it wasn't enough to attract the bands expected for this weekend's Florida State Championship Bluegrass Festival on Lake Ariana.
"You could say I'm a little disappointed", said promoter Leonard Needham.
Instea d of the expected 20 bands, only eight performed - the same number that played last year when first prize was $500 and the festival was held at Auburndale's downtown city park.
The crowd also was disappointing.
He hoped for 5,000 people. Instead, an estimated 1,000 people turned out for the two-day event .
Needham complained of the same problem Auburndale's city fathers aired last year - the festival is a losing venture.
"I'd say I'm out $1,500 already," Needham said Saturday.
This weekend's fifth annual Auburndale bluegrass competition almost never happened.
The Auburndale City Commissioners decided in January not to sponsor the festival because it didn't make enough money. Last year, it netted about $2,000.
Needham, an independent Eagle Lake promoter, agreed in March to cosponsor this year's competition with Auburndale resident Carl Allen after several people complained of the festival's death.
Why back a known money loser?
"I did it to help the senior citizens," Needham said.
The $1,000 Needham advanced Auburndale for use of the city beach, and a 25 percent cut on ticket sales are earmarked for improvements to the Auburndale senior citizen building.

The Black Mountain Cloggers of Auburndale danced up a storm. 
 News Chief photos by Brad Soft 

It appears the senior citizens will be the only winners. Needham doubted Saturday whether he would make a profit.
Some spectators speculated why more people and bands didn't attend.
A bluegrass enthusiast from Tampa said another festival this weekend in Lawtey probably attracted many people who otherwise might have come to Auburndale.
Cost was another factor.
An Auburndale resident, who didn't want to be identified, said the festival may have been too expensive.
But the people who came to the festival said they enjoyed the show. The weather was beautiful and there was nonstop bluegrass music.