This year’s Springtime Jamboree — the annual two-day program featuring local country music performers — will benefit the Fenwick Island Lions Club.
The Jamboree, now in its 37th year, picks a local organization to be the beneficiary of its proceeds each year, according to Gerald Hocker Sr., whose family founded the fundraising event and still features in it prominently, onstage and off.
Last year, the Jamboree raised approximately $30,000 for the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, according to Hocker. This year’s Jamboree is scheduled for Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, at Indian River High School.
Hocker said the Jamboree is later than its usual mid-April timing this year because of the later Easter holidays causing conflicts with the use of the building.
The Fenwick Island Lions Club offers support for its community in a number of ways, including scholarships for local students, support for those who need eyeglasses, supporting the Pyle Center’s food bank supplying hams for families at Christmas, and ramps to make homes more accessible, according to club secretary Theresa Pitman.
But it’s the club’s work with a local youth camp that is the focus of this year’s Jamboree proceeds, Pitman said.
The Fenwick Island Lions recently began working with the Delaware State Police on renovations at Camp Barnes, a Bayard-area camp, begun by the state police in 1947, which is offered each summer free of charge for Delaware youth.
With help from the Lions, Pitman said, one of the Camp Barnes cabins has been “totally restored,” and their donations have also been used to refurbish a dining area, as well as for repair work in bathrooms, windows and doors, and the pool area, she said.
In cooperation with Jamboree organizers — as is traditional for organizations that have been beneficiaries of the concert’s proceeds — Lions members have been busy selling advertisements for the printed Jamboree program that each concertgoer receives.
Hocker said he is grateful for the support that the entire community has given the Jamboree over the years, from the performers to all the other volunteers who help make the concert happen.
“People always come together,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. each night, on Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, with a pre-show by Ron Howard on piano. Then, as has happened for almost four decades now, “We open the curtain at 7 o’clock,” Hocker said. “It’s three hours of local country music with an intermission,” he said.
Gerald “Gerry” Hocker Jr. said he was finalizing the lineup of performers this week and that his sister, Nashville-based singer Beth Cayhall, will return to the festival this year.
“She’s only missed it twice since she was 5 years old,” her dad, Gerald Hocker Sr., said — both times because of the births of her two young sons.
Tickets for the Springtime Jamboree cost $15 each and are available at all three Hocker’s grocery locations, as well as at the door.
By Kerin Magill