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20 acts and then some at bluegrass jamboree

The Hemet Elks 2010 Bluegrass Jamboree is going to be big, Real big.

Twenty acts on two stages over three days. And that’s not counting the talent off the stage.

“Some of the best entertainment you’ll see will be in the campground,” said Fred LeMasters, one of the jamboree’s organizers and a bluegrass musician himself.

The jamboree is scheduled for Aug. 27 to 29 at Golden Village Palms Resort in Hemet.

LeMasters is a member of Fine Line, which will perform. LeMasters also has been booking the talent, and the acts come from all over California and as far away as Tennessee. Acts include Faultline, Wimberley Band,

Lonesome Otis, Bladerunners, Whistle Stop, Brombies, and Grasslands.

The headliner will be Ken Mellons, a Nashville-based recording artist whose hits include “Jukebox Junkie” and “Workin’ for the Weekend.”

LeMasters is very familiar with Mellons’ music.

“He got me through my divorce in ‘94 with his sad songs,” he said.

The bluegrass festival is a fundraiser for the philanthropic projects of Hemet Elks Lodge No. 1740.

“We do try to keep it in Hemet,” organizer Terry Rogers said. “The money that’s made here stays here.”

Beneficiaries the Elks give to include the Hemet Police Department, veterans at Loma Linda, Ramona Humane Society, and Kin Care. They’ve contributed to the city of Hemet centennial activities and they give scholarships each year to graduating seniors.

Ray Karlin, a festival organizer, is hoping for a turnout of hundreds at the festival. His cohort, Iris Johnson, wants it to be thousands.

One of the stages will be in the shuffleboard facility, which has a capacity of 350. The clubhouse, where the main stage will be situated, is twice that.

“I’d like to have that 700-capacity room filled up,” LeMasters said.

And lest folks are feeling leery of the August heat, both areas will be air-conditioned.

The Elks have been hard at work drumming up interest in the festival. They’ve gone to other bluegrass festivals, where Karlin guesses they’ve handed out 2,500 to 3,000 fliers, they’re advertising on radio, and they’ve posted notices in bluegrass newsletters.

Sponsorships mean more money for the Elks’ causes, but, perhaps because of the down economy, sponsorships have been hard to get. Not to say they haven’t gotten any. Rabobank has been supportive, and “we don’t even bank with them,” Rogers said.

Also helping are McMahon RV, the Hemet police union, Miller-Jones Mortuary, Primetime MMA, the Hemet Elks Golf Association, and Bank of Hemet. Golden Village Palms Resort has offered deep discounts for RV spaces.

Still, organizers would like more sponsorships.

“It’s been a little rough,” Rogers said.

The jamboree is the first of what the Elks hope will become an annual shindig. Hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees mean a boost for the local economy, they said. And they expect a good turnout because bluegrass is popular and getting more so.

LeMasters said the resurgence got started with the Coen brothers movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” starring George Clooney.

“People love that old-timey stuff,” he said.

And the economy has only made it more appealing, the organizers said. Diana Martinez said bluegrass offers connections for people who have been traveling in the fast lane of modern life.

“It’s about families, down-home music, and sharing,” she said.

Advance tickets for the jamboree will be sold through Aug. 15: $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday, $25 for Sunday, or $50 for all three days. Children 12 and younger attend free with adult admission. For information, call 551-9963.

Golden Village Palms Resort is offering full RV hookup with all amenities for $35 per night. To reserve a spot, call (866) 802-9570. Dry camping will not be available.

In addition, vendor booths are available. The cost for a 10-by-10-foot space rental is $100 for the weekend. For details, call Ray Karlin at 551-9963, Terry Rogers at 733-5402, or Iris Johnson at 306-4604.

Folks who want to get a taste of bluegrass are invited to the Elks lodge between 2:30 and 6 p.m. the first Sunday of each month for a bluegrass jam. In addition, Fine Line will perform at the Hemet Farmers Market on Aug. 14 and 21.