Even though the 25th annual Great Bend Jazz Festival is four months away, sponsors couldn’t wait to announce five-time Grammy nominee Karrin Allyson has been signed as the 2019 headliner.
Allyson, an internationally acclaimed jazz singer who is also a Great Bend native, performed at the Great Bend Jazz festival in 2002, according to Robert Feldt, one of the show’s organizers. Allyson and her band will present a concert at the Barton Community College Fine Arts Auditorium.
This year’s concert is made possible in part by a $3,000 grant from the Barton County Arts Council.
Chet Cale, president of the BCAC, said his organization recognizes the significant contribution that the Jazz Festival has made to the cultural life of the community over the years.
Cale said the BCAC’s purpose is to “strengthen, sustain and enhance existing arts resources of every artistic discipline, both traditional and non-traditional.” In line with its mission statement, the council has, in the past, given support to the Shafer Art Gallery at Barton Community College for its Vortex Arts Day and the BCAC Friends & Acquaintances Art Festival. The organization has also made grants to the art department of Great Bend USD 428 and the drama department of Ellinwood High School.
BCAC had a presence on Main Street for several years, Feldt noted. Its headquarters at 1401 Main was sold in 2014 but the group continued to work in the background.
“For awhile the Barton County Arts Council was moribund but now it’s revived,” Feldt said. Bill McKown left an endowment through the Golden Belt Community Foundation that provides a significant portion of the council’s annual income.
Cale notes that BCAC is interested in receiving applications for funding from artists and arts organization in Barton County. The council is also happy to receive donations from the community.
With strong support from the community for the past 25 years, the Jazz Festival committee has been able to hold ticket prices to a modest level, said Kurtis Koch, president of the Jazz Festival. This allows many more people in the community to enjoy first-class performances that would cost many times more if they attended other venues, he added.
Feldt agrees, having attended a Karrin Allyson concert in Salina last year.
“She’s an amazing singer,” Feldt said. “I know the audience will enjoy it.”
“Some of that Sunshine,” Allyson’s first all-original album, is available on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby. Listen to “Some of That Sunshine” at