With Labor Day Weekend quickly approaching the final touches for this year's Jackson's Mill Jubilee are being putting into place. Crafters are busy making their wares, vendors are ordering supplies, musicians are tuning their instruments and the Mill staff is preparing the grounds.
It was just two years ago that the Jubilee almost came to an end. There was a debt of about $30,000, attendance was dwindling on a yearly basis and very few believed that this long running event could be saved.
According to organizers, the Jubilee appears to be gaining strength. The debt is gone, finances are good, attendance is up and word of the Jubilee's success is getting out there.
"People are calling from all over and expressing interest in selling at the Jubilee" said Bill Adler, who is serving his last year as Jubilee president. "The other day I got a call from a couple in Canada who heard about the Jubilee from friends in Florida who recently heard about us at a show in Georgia."
While many fairs and festivals have been forced to increase gate prices and percentages crafters and vendors pay, the Jubilee prices remain the same. Three years ago, it was $8 per person to get into the Jubilee, today visitors pay $4 a person and children age 2 and younger get in free.
While it is good to be successful, success can create its own set of unique problems. Last year, on Saturday, the Jubilee experienced long lines of cars waiting to get into the event. Some visitors complained about waiting in line for well over 45 minutes.
"Last year's delays on Saturday were a problem and it was our fault" Adler explained. "The high amount of increase in attendance from our first year to our second year caught us a little flat footed. We needed to make the room to park all the cars properly, before we could work on getting them in quicker. Once we could look at what was really causing the delays, the solution was simple. On Sunday, the solution worked beautifully where traffic mirrored Saturday's peek period and we'll be ready this year."
As for changes this year, there will be noticeable changes in parking. There will be a new stage located at the gazebo next to the director's residence offering a variety of entertainment. There are new crafters and food vendors added to the line-up, and the Homemade Pie Contest from years ago is back.
But of all the changes or additions, possibly the most meaningful, will be the "Remembrance" which will be conducted on Saturday night. Last year, a "Remembrance" was hosted in the barn in honor of a couple of musicians who died in the past year. This year the "Remembrance" will be at the Amphitheater and will honor all those died in the past year who played a role in the development of the Jubilee over the past 35-plus years.
"It is only right, fitting and proper that an event like ours, most of which is and always should be dedicated to preserving the past, take a moment to remember and properly thank those from our past" said Adler.
As for other things to see and do at the Jubilee, there is music in the Barn, the Amphitheater and the Music Tent. There's also the Quilt Show, Photo Show, Book Signings, Balloon Blowing, Clowns, Traditional Quilting, Dancing, Buried Treasure, Bubbles, Courtesy Carts and "The Fire Truck Ride".
"Steve Byers and the guys at the Jackson's Mill Fire Department literally came up with a rolling smile machine with that one," Adler said. "The kids are smiling, waving and laughing and the people are smiling, waving and laughing as the kids go by. And at the end of the day that's what the Jubilee is suppose to do, put smiles on people's faces."