The Tri-County Jamboree is not just fiddling around.
It's true violin or fiddle music is an integral part of a melodious county blend. But a collaborative two-and-a-half-year relationship between local musicians, their fans and Avondale United Church's Outreach Program has resulted in a running $30,000 total contribution to charitable causes in Tillsonburg and area.
"We've raised it all here at the jamboree," said Avondale United's Larry Donnelly.
"And no, we're not just fiddling around, we're not," agreed Tri-County Jamboree's Sharon Brinn with a smile.
The concept was the brainchild of Brinn and husband Don, looking for a comfortable spot to share their love of country music.
"Here we are two-and-a-half years later, it's snowballed," she said.
She and Don essentially organize the musical portion of the evening while Avondale provides functional space and utilities at no charge. Church volunteers operate a modest food booth, whose proceeds, along with a $4 admission charge, are pooled into the community outreach program.
"And the money goes out from Avondale," said Donnelly.
Saturday evening, Salvation Army Pastor Starr Ferris dropped by at 8 p.m. to receive a $1,300 cheque in support of Christmas initiatives. The Sally Ann is just one beneficiary on a list including other organizations and individuals, including those undergoing cancer treatment and those in need.
"And kids," said Donnelly. "Primarily kids, they come first."
The fund has been used for items including food and heat, Donnelly continued.
"And fridges, stoves, washers and dryers and other things."
The Tri-County Jamboree kicked off this year on October 5 and runs most alternate Saturday evenings (December 14, January 11 and 25, February 8 and 22, March 8 and 22, April 5 and 19 and May 3, 17 and 31) through May. The jam doesn't officially start until 6:30 p.m., but Brinn says early birds show typically show up a couple of hours early as she and Don begin setting up.
"There are people sitting here two hours ahead, waiting," Sharon Brinn said.
Coffee is served beginning at 4:45 p.m. in what has developed into a shared social celebration of area country music for around 85 patrons per evening, whose benefits extend well beyond the walls of Avondale and out into the community.
"It's very comfortable, no issues," said Donnelly. "We've never had an issue."
"We're all winning," Brinn concluded. "It's a win/win situation."