The Auburndale Bluegrass Festival appears to
be back on track and back where it belongs -- in the City Park
with free admission.
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.
Saturday night, when crowds were the largest was estimated at
6,000 to 7,000 people - perhaps the largest gathering in Auburndale's
Police Chief Allen Hobbs reported no problems at all with the
large crowd. "That was the best behaved crowd I've ever seen."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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".
also attributed part of its success to returning to free admission
and to the park.
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.
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.
who originated the festival. said Sertoma provided "the best
help I've ever had since I started. They did so much of the legwork."
Quick, Sertoma president, said members were surprised at how
smoothly the weekend went.
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."
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.
the state Bluegrass Champion award, trophies and prizes were
also presented to the top clogging group, top fiddler, banjo
player, and mandolin player.
to the American Bluegrass for top band was the Beaumont Family
of San Antonio, Fla., who collected a $500 prize.
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
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.
1982 Mandolin Champion was James Rogers, from Avon Park.
Champion Banjo player was Ron Rimmer from the American Bluegrass
of the individual instrument champions received checks for $100.
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.
judges for the event. J.C. Davis, Donald Robbins and Jim King,
reported the competition the
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