Festival #6:  MARCH 19-21, 1982


Big Crowds Make Festival Successful

The Auburndale Bluegrass Festival appears to be back on track and back where it belongs -- in the City Park with free admission.
After two years of lowered attendance, the sixth Annual Florida State Bluegrass Championships held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday was termed a success with crowds estimated at fro m 15,000 to 17,000 during the three-day event.
Attendance Saturday night, when crowds were the largest was estimated at 6,000 to 7,000 people - perhaps the largest gathering in Auburndale's history.
Auburndale Police Chief Allen Hobbs reported no problems at all with the large crowd. "That was the best behaved crowd I've ever seen."
And Carl Allen. promoter and emcee of the festival, said several musicians told him the Auburndale crowd was "one of the best audiences they had ever worked to."
A total of 58 bands and individual performers competed under the bandstand for trophies and prize money before the large crowds who enjoyed fair weather all three days.
The American Bluegrass Express from Sanford, Fla. captured the title of Florida State Champion Bluegrass Band, along with a trophy, $1,500 in prize money and an appearance at the Orange Blossom Festival in Lakeland this Sunday, March 28. This is the third time for the band. which also won the state champion title in 1979 and 1980.
Allen said the enthusiastic crowd wanted the music to play on "till midnight'' after the scheduled closing Sunday at 5 p.m. The festival began Friday afternoon with the official start at 6 p.m. Friday.
"People were hurting for something to get out and do." Allen said, regarding the festival's success "The weather was the best it's been in Florida It all worked out good".
Allen also attributed part of its success to returning to free admission and to the park.
The 1979 version of the festival, the third annual, drew an estimated audience of 18,000 people, the previous highest attendance (it was held over four days that year). In 1980 for the first time admission was charged at the festival held in the park under a large tent. Attendance that year was about 4,000 people. Last year the festival moved to the City Beach and attendance dropped to approximately 1200 over two days.
This year, the Sertoma Club of Auburndale took over sponsorship of the festival as it's first project as a newly-chartered civic club in 1981. In the festival's first two years, the city had sponsored it, the next two years the Auburndale Little League sponsored the event and last year, a promoter, Leonard Needham, handled the festival.
Allen, who originated the festival. said Sertoma provided "the best help I've ever had since I started. They did so much of the legwork."
Wally Quick, Sertoma president, said members were surprised at how smoothly the weekend went.
"We thought we worked a minor miracle." Quick said. "We're amateurs at this, but we know we can do it better next year, because we learned so much."
Although no admission was charged, donations were requested to the Sertoma Club. Although totals were not available, after expenses, Sertoma expects to have made a profit, which will be used for civic projects within the city. A main project of the club is to provide a tracking dog for the Auburndale Police Department.
With the state Bluegrass Champion award, trophies and prizes were also presented to the top clogging group, top fiddler, banjo player, and mandolin player.
Runner-up to the American Bluegrass for top band was the Beaumont Family of San Antonio, Fla., who collected a $500 prize.
In clogging, judged the State Champion of 1982, was the Dixie Style Cloggers from New Port Richey. Fla. They won a trophy and $200. Runner-up was the Rainbow Cloggers, also from New Port Richey, who earned $100. Placing third, was the Sandy Country Cloggers from Auburndale.
The winner of the fiddle competition was Buddy Rogers of Avon Park. Eddie Barrs, of St. Petersburg, was runner-up, but trailed Rogers in a playoff by a tiny percentage in a very close competition.
The 1982 Mandolin Champion was James Rogers, from Avon Park.
The Champion Banjo player was Ron Rimmer from the American Bluegrass Express.
Each of the individual instrument champions received checks for $100.
In all, 12 bands, 10 clogging groups, 13 fiddlers, 16 banjo players, and 7 mandolin players competed over the weekend. The musicians and dancers came from all over the state plus from as far as Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York and Canada.
The judges for the event. J.C. Davis, Donald Robbins and Jim King, reported the competition the

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