Claremore’s famous Bluegrass and Chili Festival is searching for a new home this year.
The Claremore Chamber of Commerce says it won’t back the event anymore, but organizers aren’t giving up.
Dell Davis says the Bluegrass and Chili Festival has been happening for 39 years and, even though the Claremore Chamber has backed out of the event this year, the show will go on.
“Six months into planning, we got the big surprise,” said Davis.
Davis has been involved with the festival since 1980, just one year after its inception.
“We’ve had two and three generations through the years attend this festival,” she said.
Davis says she was shocked when the Claremore Chamber of Commerce said in April that the festival would have to be held elsewhere this year.
“They said they weren’t going to do it anymore,” Davis said. “I can tell you, the steering committee was quite surprised because we were already in the festival mode.”
Davis says she knows the funds were there to host the event, but that she offered to do the event for free.
“We offered to go ahead and do the event just like always, and they refused that offer as well,” she said.
Jeff Howell with the Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying, in part, “We are grateful for the opportunity to host the Bluegrass & Chili Festival for a number of years, but as with all healthy organizations, we must change to meet the needs of our members.”
Davis says she’s not giving up.
“We’re taking the high road. If it can’t happen here, then we’re going to move on,” she said.
She says several local communities have already expressed interest in hosting the festival, which she hopes they can still pull together before September.