When it was announced a year ago that the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce would need to raise $100,000 in seed money for a jazz festival, many feared the goal was too ambitious considering today's economy.
Those understandable fears can now be laid to rest. Angelo Pizelo, chamber president and festival committee chairman, told close to 100 supporters of the Yosemite International Jazz Festival June 18 at Idle Hour Winery, that the fund raising efforts for the seed money have reached 80% of the goal and contracts have been signed with headlining entertainment.
Veteran jazz saxophonist Richard Elliott will appear at the inaugural festival coming to Eastern Madera County Oct. 28 - 30. Other festival jazz artists who will perform at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino are Spyro Gyra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Greg Adams, Alice Lui, Karen Marguth, Dana Abbott and Tim and Myles Thompson.
The Sunday performance will feature a non denominational gospel revival style show along with a pancake breakfast at the Oakhurst Community Center.
Seed money for the festival was made possible by about 60 supporting patrons from the Mountain Area donating $1,000 or more. A major contributor to the festival is Sierra Telephone.
"Thanks to the supporting patrons we will be able to bring some highly respected and popular musicians to the area who will draw some big crowds," Pizelo said. "There will be an immediate impact to our business community because this festival will fill the area hotels and motels with out of town jazz enthusiasts."
Pizelo said the committee is seeking additional $1,000 patrons to help support the festival. Patrons will receive two tickets with VIP seating to each of the four jazz concerts and two tickets to a private reception. In addition, patrons will have their names permanently on display when the new performing arts center opens.
A walnut case made by Randy Papike, Alan Dayhoff, Mike Muscato and Mike Martignoni, with the names of the patrons is on display at Yosemite Bank.
Profits from the event will be used to support a proposed Visitors and Performing Arts Center for the Mountain Area.
"The center will house cultural exhibits and provide retail outlets and conference rooms for up to 600 people," said Kathy McCorry, executive director of the chamber."The goal of the committee is to one day hold the jazz festival in Oakhurst in the new center," said Pizelo. "We hope this can be accomplished in the next five to eight years."
The fundraiser at Idle Hour Winery featured jazz and swing standards by Fresno's Mallory Moad and Scats on the Sly. Attendees enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and the Idle Hour wines including Syrah, Viognier, Rose of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Chamber board member Colette Goga auctioned a jazz print by Leonid Afremov donated by Sherry Colgate for $200, two VIP jazz festival tickets for $250 and a party barge rental donated by Miller's Landing Resort for $190.
Tickets for the Friday and Saturday concerts will range from $30 to $50 per show and $20 for the Sunday gospel show.
Details: Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, (559) 683-6677, yijazz.com.