Festival turns its 1st profit

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, February 5, 2009

For the first time in its three-year history, the Covington Bluegrass Festival is reported to have earned a profit, which this year is estimated at $3,000.

District 4 commissioner and event organizer Carl Turman said the three-day event was a resounding “success.”

“While not everything is counted yet, I’d say the profit is well over $3,000,” Turman said. “We had people from all over the place — Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, and most importantly — local people from Covington County and Alabama.

“We profited this year,” he said. “We were hoping to break even, but we did better than that. Real success — that’s what I’d call it.”

Turman said he had people call from the Mobile area to comment on the event.

“They were telling me how good the festival was and how much they enjoyed the people,” he said. “There was a high level of entertainment, and they said they’d never seen so much talent in one place — and a lot of that talent was local, too.”

Ten acts, including The Gary Waldrep Band, Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, The Sullivan Family and The Doerfel Family, as well as local acts like The Turman Family, The Chestangs, Three C’s Gospel and The Bush Family, drew an estimated crowd of 1,500 people, Covington Arena manager Tony Wells said.

Wells said the profit was generated through ticket sales, concession stand sales, RV space rentals and donations.

“People who had done this type of festival before told us it would take three years before we saw a profit; they were right,” Wells said.

Wells said a good amount of that profit could be attributed to local support given to the show.

“We had a lot more local people come out than ever before,” he said. “I knew a lot of these people personally and it was great to see them show up. Saturday night was by far our biggest night. Two of the main acts — Gary Waldrep and Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road — were on the stage, plus it was Saturday night. That’s typically the best night for any event we have.”

Turman expects popularity for the event to continue to grow.

“We’re going to keep going (next year),” he said. “We’ll start in the next week or two making plans for next year to see who we can get. Bluegrass is a growing thing. People don’t realize how much of a following it has.”

Turman said an estimated 35 RVs were parked locally for the event.

“There are people that follow these festivals around,” he said. “Our goal is that we want to be as big as Columbia, Miss. There they have three festivals a year and anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 people to show each time. We can do that. I know we can.”

Turman said one thing that will help organizers meet its goal is the timing of the event.

“Each year, we have ours in January,” he said. “When we first started, people said why don’t you have it in the spring? The reason was that we have to get these acts when they’re free.

“December and January are usually slow months for these performers,” he said. “We can catch them in between shows. In February, they go to booking festivals all over the country and they don’t wind down until the latter part of October. We can’t have (the local festival) when another is going on. It would hurt us.”