By Kim West
ROGERSVILLE — Festival organizers celebrated the addition of the Alabama Bluegrass Music Championship during Tuesday’s reception at the Chamber of Commerce office.
The first-time event will join the lineup for the 12th annual Rogersville Bluegrass Festival, to be held Friday and Saturday, July 19-20.
The bluegrass competition, which has a $5,870 prize purse, was designated as the official state championship when Gov. Robert Bentley signed a state resolution May 8.
Janna Whitley, director of the Rogersville Area Chamber of Commerce, credited state Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, and state Sen. Tammy Irons, D-Florence, for helping navigate the resolution through the Legislature.
“Lynn Greer and Tammy Irons helped push through the resolution that allowed us to officially have the Alabama Bluegrass Championship,” Whitley said. “The competition will have four categories, including the banjo, dobro, guitar and mandolin.”
The reception also drew Rogersville Mayor Richard Herston, Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks and Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock, and tourism leaders from Limestone and Lauderdale counties.
Whitley said an expanded festival also benefits the Athens and Shoals areas, since the bluegrass contest is expected to lure tourists and entrants from around the state and outside Alabama.
“We’ve had a couple of thousand attend previous festivals, and we’re hoping to continue to grow,” she said. “We think this could be a boost for the entire area.”
Whitley said the Rogersville festival is funded through sponsors, grants and local appropriations.
Corporate sponsors for the festival are Garrett Chiropractic Clinic, Village Interiors & Specialty Gifts and Athens-Limestone Hospital, which is a first-time sponsor.
The festival kickoff event will be Thursday, July 18, at Heritage Park, while the contest and other activities will be held at Rogersville Recreation Park. For more information about the festival, call 256-247-9449 or visit http://www.rogersvillebluegrassfestival.com.