- Category: Uncategorised
- Published on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:13
- Written by Lynn Raske
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The Viroqua Bluegrass & Gospel Music Association (VBGMA) was spearheaded initially by David and Lorna Peterson and a group of people who wanted to bring Bluegrass and Gospel music to Viroqua in a festival-type setting.
The first year for the festival was 2003 and it was held at Viroqua’s Wild West Grounds. “It was a year for learning,” said Eldon Gardner. “We made a lot of mistakes, but I think everyone knew we were trying our best.”
Many of the promoters for Wild West Days were very encouraging and offered hands-on help. The Stage for the first festival was a semi-trailer bed donated by Winston Tally. Even with a hot, sunny day, there was good attendance which encouraged the fledgling group. At a post-festival meeting the decision was made to form a non-profit association and offer memberships to the public. It took most of the following year for the paperwork and state approval but the group was soon “official”.
In 2004 the festival moved to the Vernon County Fairgrounds due to construction at the Wild West Grounds. This provided camping access and made it easier for the Lions and Lionettes to serve their delicious food.
The festival has continued to grow. In 2005 people of all ages filled the 140 x 40’ tent. As a result of this growth and enthusiasm the VBGMA board decided in 2006 to expand the festival to include a Friday night program. A total of seven bands performed during the three-day weekend with workshops offered on Saturday morning as well.
Seven bands and the rental of the grounds, tent and the sound system do not come without a price. Revenue to pay these expenses comes from gate receipts, raffles, memberships and donations. It takes years to establish a festival. It is beginning to break even but there is still an outstanding loan to repay. As the festival continues to be a success the group plans to share any profits with charitable organizations in the community.
The association’s goals include bringing the family entertainment to the area and to promote singing, listening, and learning about Bluegrass and Gospel music. Monthly Jam Sessions at the Park View Manor as well as Viroqua’s own Gospel band, the DisChords, are two of the offshoots of the initial vision. Your attendance helps to promote this family-oriented weekend of good music and fellowship and we thank you all for your support.