SMITHVILLE – “The Jamboree You Love Just Got Better.” The new slogan for the 2014 Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival lived up to its billing, according to organizers. The annual event, which was held over the July 4 weekend, posted record-breaking contestant numbers, large crowds and sold out booths and food vendors in its 43rd year.
WCTE-TV also televised the two-day Appalachian bluegrass competition across Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky and is currently airing the event across the nation on public television stations – as they have for decades. A new twist in their national show this year was to choose two locals to host the national broadcast. Suzanne Williams of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and Shan Burklow of DeKalb Community Hospital hosted the four-hour finale Saturday evening that included new content like behind the scene interviews and social media interaction.
“The national show was a whole new ballgame for us this year,” Burklow said. “It was definitely an adventure and gave new meaning to the phrase, ‘on the job training.’ Becky Magura (WCTE president) was there to mentor us, and the whole WCTE crew was so supportive. We had such a great time. I loved seeing the massive crowd and hear all the positive stories from all the people we interviewed.”
Added Williams, “It was such an honor to host an event that is so dear to our hearts. I have watched Becky (Magura) and Steve (Boots) host for years now and always wondered what it would be like to host the Jamboree for television. Let me tell you, they made it look much easier than it actually is. We laughed at our mistakes and high-fived each other when we made it through a segment. I have a brand new respect for what they did for the past 28 years.”
New additions to the Jamboree this year included the Miss Jamboree Pageant in June – queens and pageant award winners then volunteered as greeters for the festival and presenting awards on stage. Darrin Vincent of the Dailey & Vincent bluegrass duo provided a mini-concert to the crowd after accepting the first ever “Jamboree Blue Blaze Award” for “keeping the embers of bluegrass music glowing for future generations.” WJLE radio was also recognized for 50 years of service to the community. And lest we forget, the addition of “Bluegrass Pickin’ on the Square,” the Thursday night kick-off to the Jamboree this year. More than 300 people turned out for the free concert featuring award-winning Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band. The DeKalb Community Hospital kid’s zone, staged in the Evins Park area, included inflatables, slides and a mechanical bull. And new street signs welcomed shoppers including the newest addition of “retail trail” on Walnut Street.
And as for the Jamboree’s signature music, crafts and food, the music ended with a fiddle-off between a mother and daughter duo. Crafts catered to both young and old alike with nearly 200 booths. Civic organization food vendors filled the streets with lemonade, barbeque and burgers.
The 2015 Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival is scheduled for July 3-4.