The Southern Soul Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 4, at the park in Gum Springs. Music will begin around 2 p.m. with Calvin Richardson to take the stage at 10 p.m.
By Sherry Kelley
A three-time Grammy nominated R&B artist will be in concert in Gum Springs during the 108th Annual Second of August Reunion Weekend.
Calvin Richardson, known as the "Soul Prince," will headline The Gum Springs Southern Soul Festival on Saturday, Aug. 4. The music festival is slated to begin at 2 p.m. and Richardson will take the stage at approximately 10 p.m. at the Richard L. Bryant Family Park, 326 Hillcrest St., in Gum Springs.
Richardson was nominated for a Grammy in 2011 for Best Traditional R&B Performance and in 2010 he was nominated for two Grammy Awards; Best Duo, Solo or Group and Best Traditional R&B Performance. One of his current hits is entitled, "You're So Amazing." Richardson, who is also known for his tribute to Bobby Womack, can be checked out online at www.iamcalvinrichardson.com.
All of the festival artists will perform on a professional stage with professional lighting,
"We are going to make it as big and bright as possible, it will look like a real concert," said festival organizer Mark Gillette.
In addition to Richardson, the lineup includes Ramona Smith and the Soul Rhythms Band, The Big John Miller Band, The Hall Brothers Band, The On Call Band featuring blues legend Charles Gatewood, and more.
Gillette said the park has a lot of trees and is shady beginning around 2 p.m. There will also be a cooling tent with fans for concert goers.
"I am trying to rekindle the attendance of the reunion weekend," said Gillette who remembers big crowds as a boy growing up in Gum Springs. "People still come, but it used to be the highlight of everybody's summer. Sometimes there were five or six thousand people in the 1970's and 80's."
Gillette said he got the idea to include a music fesitval through his travels around the world.
"It started as a harvest festival, I believe," said Gillette of the reunion weekend. "It's one of our nation's longest running annual events. We used to play baseball but lately there hasn't been much for the young people to do. I want to grow the reunion weekend to what it used to be."
Eastern Star Worthy Matron Sandra Delamar agreed.
"We need to pull in the younger people. They are the ones that are out and going places, the younger generation."
When Delamar was a girl her grandmother lived in Gum Springs,
"We would walk from her house to the picnic area and there would be cars and people everywhere."
She said she believes the Gum Springs Southern Soul Festival can bring back the crowds.
Sam Blevins a member of the Gum Springs Masonic Lodge Universal Excelsior #13 said families still come into town in the old time tradition but said, "It used to be so thick you couldn't stir them with a stick."
The masonic family cooks and sells barbeque.
"The ladies cook the fish, buffalo and cat, and the men cook the goat, beef and pork," said Blevins.
"We just got back to selling goat," said Delamar. "That's what everyone was asking for. Our first year selling goat, we sold out on Friday night. Last year, our second year, we sold out of everything including goat on Saturday. This year we are ready, we have a lot of everything including goat. I love the goat."
New to the menu this year will be baked potatoes stuffed with a choice of meat and cheese. The potatoes, fish, beef and pork sandwiches will be $5 and the goat will be $6.
The proceeds from the food sales will go to the new masonic lodge. The outside is complete but the inside needs to be finished. The barbeque and fish will be sold at the lodge on Friday beginning around 4 p.m. until everyone is finished. Last year that was nearly 1 a.m. The barbeque and fish goes back on sale beginning around 8 a.m. on Saturday and continues until everyone is finished. Saturday sales will be at the lodge and at the festival, said Delamar.
"I am encouraged that the festival will bring back the crowds of the old days," said Delamar who said he loves blues music. "Calvin Richardson is great and local talent will have an opportunity to be heard, too."
There will also be a disc jockey, music and dancing at the lodge.
According to Gillette he has invested over $12,000 of his own money into the festival. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on Aug. 4.
"Tell your friends to tell a friend," said Gillette, who said he has enlisted the help of the Clark County Sheriff's Office.
He said organizers are planning for a very safe and organized festival and said a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Courage House, a Clark County shelter for abused women and children.
"The entertainment will add a needed boost to the weekend activities that in the past have been confirmed to have people in attendance from all 50 states as well as national, state and local leaders. Governor Bill Clinton, Senator David Pryor and State Representative Bob Arnold have all attended in the past," said Gillette who now lives in the Dallas area with his wife Gertrude, where he works as an equipment engineer for Texas Instruments.
Gillette said sponsorships are available and are tax deductible, 501 C 3 charity. Silver, gold and platinum sponsorships are $100, $500 and $1,000. Each level receives festival passes and advertisements based on the amount contributed. For advance tickets, sponsorship or more information contact Gillette at 214-476-2231 or email Mardagil@live.com.