Letter: A big Americana success, thanks to . . .

Whenever an event succeeds, you can be sure that a lot of folks put in a lot of time and effort to make it happen. The Rappahannock Americana Festival this past Saturday was a perfect case in point.

On a beautiful sunny day, the green hill of Avon Hall provided the ideal setting for an afternoon of America’s homegrown music, and a packed evening concert at The Theatre in Washington topped off the Festival.

Alma and I found support and encouragement through every phase of putting on this production. Our is a generous and creative community and we are grateful to the many who made this festival happen. Washington Mayor John Sullivan and the town council were fully supportive, as were County Administrator John McCarthy and Sheriff Connie C. Smith and the Rappahannock Sheriff’s Department.

Wendy Weinberg of the Theatre has surely done more than anyone in bringing genuine quality entertainment to our county. She is a Rappahannock treasure. She and her staff, especially Henry and Meredith Gorfein, are simply terrific.

Our stellar sponsors provided financial and moral support. Our eternal gratitude goes to Tula’s off Main, Thornton River Grill, Real Estate III, the White Moose Inn, Stonyman Gourmet Farmer and Wine Loves Chocolate.

Jim Offutt and Kim Bealle brought their talents and experience to the project, and John Rhodes and Michelle Almond brought great energy and enthusiasm. Tucker Rogers was an ever-steady stage manager, while sound man Gary Kirby worked his wizardry at Avon Hall and the Theatre. The many musicians would testify that Gary is one of  the best in the business. Neal and Tammy Atkins and Jim Hilton worked tirelessly at crunch time. Cleveland “Clevie” Hawkins was the man with the plan and a friend indeed.

We found great allies in RAAC and RappFlow. The grounds at Avon Hall were turned into a beautiful village green, and the musicians were excellent: The Gold Top County Ramblers, Ben Mason, John and Manabu, Jeffrey Scott, Mandalele, Craver Hicks Watson & Newberry, Irene Kelly, David Olney, Sergio Webb, Robin and Linda Williams and The Dirty Dawgs all drew raves from delighted festival goers.

As always, the most important part of any show is the audience. Those who attended basked in the gentle beauty of Rappahannock and the charm of our county seat. And their response was overwhelmingly positive.

For me, two things stood out. First, there were people of all ages at the Festival, from lots of little kids to seniors and all points in between.

And secondly, I never cease to be amazed by the gift that Alma Viator has for turning work into play and good ideas into great results. As a producer, she is a magician. And y’all, the Rappahannock Americana Music Festival was indeed magic!

Ben Jones