By By Keith Castleberry
Many, many thanks to all of the people who came together to make the 24th Annual Old Time Fiddler's Convention a huge success for this year. First and foremost I thank the Rotarians who helped in the planning and execution of the event. The event took effort and planning, with input from current Rotarians, former Rotarians and friends of Rotary.
I'd like to thank my fellow Rotarians for their hard work and dedication to make this event a memorable event every year. We have done this for 24 years and this is a tribute to our club. The Rotary Club does this project for the betterment of our community through the Rotary Academic All-Stars. Twenty-four years ago, the members of the Atmore Rotary Club found a need for housing for the elderly and built Atmore Rotary Village. We needed a way to raise funds for this project and one of our wiser members suggested a fiddlers' contest. After several years the Fiddlers' Convention had done its job in raising the amount of money needed for Rotary Village. A new cause came to us from Ulay Wise and Mary Grissett. This was the Academic All-Star Program. Students in the four local high schools are honored for excellent grades with a reception, certificate and plaque. A very proud moment for our club came in the form of a new member last year, Cindy Lee. Cindy was honored as one of our first Academic All-Stars…and now she has come back to Atmore and is a Rotarian, raising funds for another Academic All-Star event.
Thank you Walt Butler, who helped make the barbecue cook-off a reality. We could not have attempted this without your guidance. Thank you, Pepsi Cola! Pepsi has got to be the most faithful supporter of The Fiddler's Convention. Pepsi allows us to use their Pepsi wagons each year, even setting them up and taking them down for us. They do this each year without hesitation. This year, they also provided the tents for the cook-off and even competed in the cook-off. Escambia County High School's Jerry Smith and David McKinley worked with us and our schedule to make sure that the facilities were ready for the big night. Our long-time emcee, Devon Wiggins, came through once again and kept the crowd entertained between acts. Alabama Power installed a new power box so that we could have electricity for the cook-off. The Utilities Board got water to us with a new connection. Pee Wee Construction brought us some of the biggest fans I've seen to help keep us cool through the heat. We also had some youthful volunteers – Gordon Nichols and Wesley Channell worked in one of the Pepsi wagons most of the night. Thanks to United Bank and First National Bank for allowing our advertising to be inserted in their bank statements. Thank you Dick McCabe, Al Frank and Emilie Woodson Frank for agreeing to be our judges for the Fiddler's Convention. Thank you Lee Corrigan, Cliff Barros, and Glenn Harger from the United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile for judging our barbecue cook-off.
We also thank our businesses' staffs and families for allowing us the time away from home and work to make this a success. We thank the participants in the Fiddler's Convention and the participants of the barbecue cook-off. Thank you to the people who came to hear some of the best old time fiddling and eat Atmore's best barbecue.
This event was made possible through the co-operation of a great number of the local businesses in Atmore. Local businesses allowed their employees to take time off to attend planning meetings that have been going on for months. Some gave them time off for the event held Saturday. The other Rotarians gave up their weekends to help with the event. I want to say that I very much appreciate this and assure you that the time and money invested in this will come back to your businesses in the Academic All-Star Program.
This program rewards the youth of Atmore area who make better grades, and as a result enable them to find better jobs in the future. Funds for the Academic All-Stars Program come from advertisement sales in our program for the Fiddlers' Convention, tickets for the Fiddlers'' Convention, and from the sales of barbecue and other food items the day of the Fiddlers'' Convention.
The vast majority of the ads purchased for our program comes from local businesses. You may notice that there aren't a lot of the big chains in there. So, please support our local businesses. We could not hold the Fiddler's Convention and many other events without them.