By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: September 2013
The award-winning “The Lonesome River Band” with Sammy Shelor, winner of the Steve Martin Award for Excellence, will be performing Thursday evening at the 34th annual Bluegrass & Chili Festival.
An estimated 30,000 people will converge in Claremore September 5-7 to enjoy lots of free award-winning musical performances, a competitive chili cook-off, a vocalist competition and other family-friendly activities at the 34th annual Bluegrass & Chili Festival at the Claremore Expo Center grounds.
“We have seen tremendous growth in the 14 years the venue has been in Claremore,” says Dell Davis, Chamber of Commerce president. “We estimated last year’s crowd between 25,000 and 30,000 over the three-day event. We even have people who have attended every one of the festivals.”
Weekend festivities include three stages of free “pepper hot” concerts by national and regional artists. Headliners set to appear include a host of award winners.
Thursday night’s concert venue will begin with the Quebe Sisters Band, a Texas trio whose music encompasses western swing, jazz, country and bluegrass. Following the sister act is the award-winning The Lonesome River Band with Sammy Shelor, winner of the Steve Martin Award for Excellence. Rounding out the evening’s entertainment is the Grammy-nominated Sanctus Real, a contemporary Christian band.
Friday’s lineup includes IIIrd Tyme Out, Brooke & Darin Aldridge Band, Lonesome Road and emerging artists Dave Adkins & Republik Steele. On Saturday, headliners include Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, festival favorites Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and the king of newgrass, The Sam Bush Band.
Top regional acts will also be entertaining on three stages, performing a variety of music including country, gospel, bluegrass and classic rock. In addition to the free concerts, other musical entertainment highlights include the “Junior Showcase,” designed to give talented youth, 21 and under, stage exposure and experience in a non-competitive venue. An acoustic guitar will be awarded in a drawing of all participants. “This gives young people the opportunity to get exposure without the pressure of competing,” says Davis.
Area vocalists will also be competing for “The Best Country in the City Vocalist Competition.” Vocalists of all ages will be vying for a cash prize. Dancers will add to the fun as they “kick up their heels” during the festivities.
Other family activities include the indoor Festival Market at the Expo with a variety of crafts, services and businesses. A Kiddie Korral with a variety of free activities will be available to little buckaroos. Other family-friendly activities include The Open Car Show, sporting classic and current beauties, as well as an Antique Tractor Pull.
The Mid-America Regional Chili Cook-Off and Salsa Competition will be sizzling with The International Chili Society Division winning cook representing the Festival in the World Cook-off that boasts a $25,000 first prize. A non-profit division is open to non-profits, schools and churches, with the winner receiving a $1,000 first prize. Open and corporate division teams will vie for awards – and bragging rights. All teams will also compete for booth decorations, showmanship and ham-manship honors. Festival attendees can get in on the “hot fun” by sampling the award-winning chili with an official taster kit.
Opening officially at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Bluegrass & Chili Festival activities will kick off with the Festival Market. Concerts will follow, beginning at 6 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday. Saturday’s festivities run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“We always have a great time,” says Davis, “and the festival has a huge economic impact on our community.”
Volunteers, according to Davis, “are crucial to this event. We have more than 500 who make this happen. They are truly ambassadors to our community.”
For additional festival information and applications, contact the Claremore Chamber at 419 W. Will Rogers. Hotel information, festival updates and a complete list of festival partners can be found at www.claremore.org or by calling (918) 341-2818. There is no admission fee but on-site parking is $10 per carload.
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.