String Fling coming to Lewisburg

Friday, March 12, 2010

A new music event is coming to Rock Creek Park this spring, with the blessing of the Economic and Community Development/Tourism committee.

"String Fling," previously held three times at its founder's home near Chapel Hill, will be in the park on Saturday, May 15, and the committee unanimously approved a resolution to spend $2,000 on the Fling.

"We need a spring event," said Mike Wiles, executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board.

"There's no reason we can't make this a premier event," said founder Gary Francis, who is personally donating $500 toward festival expenses.

"He has connections in the bluegrass industry, and he's going to bring some headliners," added Greg Lowe. "There will be people pickin'n'grinnin' all day; there will be food vendors. Rock Creek Park is becoming an all-day festival kind of area."

Francis, the director of sales and marketing at Teledyne Lewisburg, who has a recording studio in his home, told the committee that he started the String Fling "on a whim" because of his love of bluegrass.

He said the secret of the festival's success is quality.

"We screen talent," Francis explained. "We get good folks -- quality acts and songwriters. In three years I never had a problem. It draws a good crowd."

The crowd was estimated at 500 the last time String Fling was held at his house, and the move to Rock Creek Park will allow a much bigger audience to enjoy a day of special music.

Among other requests for funding approved by the ECD/Tourism committee at their meeting Tuesday night were:

* School board member Barbara Kennedy spoke on behalf of the Marshall Education Foundation, which requested $5,000 to help keep the Marshall Scholars Program going.

"We're hanging on by our fingernails," Kennedy said. "Loss of a scholarship coordinator would be devastating." She explained what a vital role the coordinator, Heather Savage, plays in finding college scholarships for Marshall County students from all three high schools.

"'The scholarship lady' -- that's me," said Savage. She went on to tell the committee that this spring she has invitations to 20 college graduations from the first batch of students she helped get scholarships.

* Five members of the Petersburg Lions Club asked for $750 towards the expenses of putting on their annual horse show, a fundraiser that generates about 75 percent of their revenue for the year. The acting secretary, Gene Roberson, explained that the Lions took a big step last year, buying a 12 acre site about half a mile north of the park.

"We had more horseshow than we had room for," Roberson said, explaining that their one-night show is the second largest in Tennessee.

"We are committed to growing our show; that's the primary reason we bought the property," he said.

The new site should be ready for the show in 2011, and it includes a building that the Lions are going to renovate and use for community programs.

Committee chairman Jimmy Stitt amended the Lions' $750 request to $3,000, with the stipulation that the difference be spent on development of the new land, and this was unanimously approved.

"That doesn't usually happen here: get more than you ask for," pointed out committee member Tony White.

* Youth baseball got a total of $6,500 to enlarge their parking area. They started out asking for $8,000, half what road superintendent Jerry Williams estimated it would cost to level the proposed area and add rock to it. Stitt reminded his committee that they had already committed money to Cruise-In and String Fling, so they unanimously approved the smaller sum.