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New volunteers will keep the bluegrass playing in Olalla

The Olalla Bluegrass Festival will be up and pickin’ this August thanks to new volunteers. - POI File Photo
The Olalla Bluegrass Festival will be up and pickin’ this August thanks to new volunteers.
— image credit: POI File Photo

Late last year, it looked like this summer in Olalla might be missing a lot of music, food and fun when the community’s Bluegrass Festival organizers said they needed more help to keep the event humming.

But now, with a new director and new volunteers on board, festival founder Charlee Glock-Jackson said the event is on track and officially scheduled for Aug. 21.

“A lot of new people showed up and raised their hands to volunteer,” Glock-Jackson said. “They didn’t want to see something as magical as our little Olalla festival fade away into the sunset.”

Glock-Jackson said the festival wasn’t close to ending for lack of love, but because she and other longtime volunteers like former director Marty Kellogg had a long tradition of spreading themselves too thin.

“We took on more than we really could, and became incredibly burned-out, largely because of not delegating,” she said, recalling when she stepped down as director after nine years “of doing most everything myself,” including putting together the program, booking the bands and organizing the volunteers.

“I decided I couldn’t continue to do all that, and said ‘If this is meant to continue, somebody else will step forward,” she said. At that time, fellow Olalla resident Kellogg stepped forward to be director. “And this year, it was the same thing. (Kellogg) stepped down, and we said if ‘If it’s meant to continue, people will step forward.’ And, karma points for us, they did, because this thing has a life if its own.”

Jackson said South Kitsap resident Larry Davis — who has served as chair of Vashon Island’s Strawberry Festival — will be the new director, and Southworth resident George Willock will serve as secretary.

“(Willock) is absolutely wonderful” she said. “He has been involved in the festival as a worker bee, but had never had an organizational role.”

Willock, a Southworth resident, said he grew up in Olalla and has attended every Bluegrass Festival since it began in 1991.

Willock said he has volunteered most years as well, but was inspired to take on a larger role when he learned the festival was struggling.

“It is a very enthusiastic group, and there are lots of new ideas floating around,” he said of the new volunteers. “Things are rolling along.”

Glock-Jackson said it was “very gratifying” to have so many people step up.

“Those of us who are still involved, we are all so energized and fired up,” she said, explaining that she doubts she will ever step away from the festival entirely, and still books all the bands.

She’s currently screening bands for August, and said organizers are looking for businesses or other organizations that are interested in being sponsors.

For more information on the event and how to volunteer, go to: Olalla Bluegrass Festival’s website

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