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Jamboree Countdown
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Let the countdown begin! The 41st year of the annual Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree will kick off in just 10 days with the downtown streets around the Courthouse filling with visitors from all over the United States and the world.One of the South’s premier festivals, the Jamboree is dedicated to preserving and celebrating old-time Appalachian music and continues to thrive, despite the country’s economic downtown that hit hard in 2008.An “open” festival, with no admission charged, as many as 40,000-plus visitors are likely to come and go during this year’s two-day event, July 6-7.With pure, unadulterated old-time “mountain” music filling the square, visitors can also shop at the Jamboree’s street-lined craft booths, which emphasize hand-made, high-quality goods and chow down at one of a number of food booths found throughout the festival.According to Jamboree Board Chairman Jack Barton, some 150 craft booths have already been paid and spoken for, with applications still coming in.“Our maximum number of craft booths we can accommodate is 225, so with the number we’ve got and those still coming in, we believe there will be something for everyone wanting to shop the festival,” Barton noted.And while there has been some controversy over food booths, with Jamboree officials seeking to keep the booths limited to local non-profit groups in order to keep money in the community, Barton said all food booths will be utilized, although some will be filled by commercial vendors.That controversy came when some local non-profits began contracting out their booth spaces to commercial vendors rather than their own members manning them, resulting is fewer dollars for local non-profit organizations that needed funding.Barton said he was pleased that the Jamboree will once again see local non-profit groups running their own food booths and hopes, in time, to see a return to all locally-run charitable endeavors.One measure the festival board instituted this year to entice local non-profits back to the food booths was dropping 2011’s increased booth fee of $500 back down to $350 for non-profits.Live music, especially great “fiddlin,’” singing, dancing, good food and a plethora of handmade crafts, what more could a Jamboree-goer want?How about good weather? While highs on Friday, July 6, are predicted by Accuweather to hit the mid-90s, Saturday, July 7, promises to be a cooler, overcast day with highs in the mid-80s and no rain forecast either day.The highlight of the two-day event is, of course, the Jamboree competitions where amateur performers display and share their talents on the center stage.Officially earning the prestigious distinction as the National Championship for Beginner Musicians, the competitions are aired regionally by WCTE Cookeville and a two-hour Jamboree video is given to public television stations across the nation.So whether your pleasure is fiddling, mandolin, or other musical instruments; old-time singing, clogging or square dancing, shopping for homemade crafts, just visiting or chowing down, the 41st annual Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree promises to have something for everybody.