Something new has been added to the summer schedule in Le Mars and it's a big event.
The 33rd National Old Time Country & Bluegrass Music Festival and Pioneer Exposition of Arts and Crafts will be held at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds Aug. 25-31, and is billed as America's premier traditional acoustic music event. The seven-day event will feature more than 600 performers on 10 stages, including a number of celebrities.
"We are very much looking forward to our adventure to the Plymouth County Fairgrounds, in anticipation of our 33rd annual National Old Time Country & Bluegrass Music Festival," said Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association, in a press release. "This event is our only fund-raiser of the year for our needs dealing with the preservation of America's early rural musical art forms.
"This year has its own challenges, to be sure, and high gas prices are sure to affect what we do. More importantly however is the large number of participants we have coming from foreign countries. My wife Sheila and I just came back from a three-month performance tour of New Zealand, and have invited a number of talented performers from that country to be part of our annual gathering."
Everhart is looking to the community for help in housing a number of those talented performers.
"Many of our foreign guests are requesting what they call 'home-stays'," Everhart explained. "This helps keep their costs down, and stay within their budgets to come to America. All of our guests are good Christians, they all come from good family back grounds, they are all keenly interested in every-day 'typical' Americans, and the American life style."
He went on to explain one family, coming from Auckland, New Zealand, includes a mother and father and eight children. "This entire family pays fiddles, guitars, cellos and an amazing number of other musical instruments performing Irish dance music," Everhart said. "They are very keen to come to America to share their talent, but they need help in finding accomodations. This is what 'home-stay' means to our guests."
What the home-stay involes is mainly a place to sleep. "They don't ask for food, or even travel help, but home-stay sponsors usually help out with all these needs," Everhart said.
He said another couple, Dusty and May Spittle who are quite well-known in New Zealand, are in their early 70s and have become quite famous in this country. They, too, prepfer to be hosted by a "home-stay" if at all possible.
"We have about a dozen families coming that need 'home-stay' help," Everhart said.
Bob's wife, Sheila Everhart, books much of the talent for the event.
"We have so many international guests, especially this year it seems, Johnny Butten from England, Ben and Carmen Steneker from Holland, two incredible acts from Australia, about a dozen families from New Zealand, even a dance troupe from Greece. There just simply isn't any way we can accomodate all these guests without help from the community," she added.
The NTCMA (members of CIOFF, an international organization fostering talent exchanges around the world), is asking citizens of Le Mars to come forward with any help they can in finding accomodations for our foreign guests. All inquiries should be forwarded to Bob or Sheila Everhart at 712-762-4363, or e-mailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org All 'home-stay' participants get 7-day free gate passes to the festival for the immediate family, and an opportunity to share in the adventure that has consistently been an exciting and rewarding one.
"We have already signed on with several celebrities that have committed to being with us this year," said Sheila, "Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers, Don Maddox of the famous Maddox Brothers and Rose, Bill Clifton (WVa) who founded the first outdoor bluegrass concert-festival, and many more, so we are quite excited with our first event in Le Mars."
To learn more about the music festival and see a list of those planning to participate in the festival, check out the website, www.oldtimemusic.tipzu.com.