To the Editor:
I am motivated to write by the terrific piece Todd Helmick wrote in the Times-News on May 25, where he outlines the many economic benefits that the DelFest and Del Academy have had on our local economy (“It’s high time for DelFest to fire up local economy,” Page 1A.)
I had the pleasure of attending the DelFest, and also the Del Academy per my son Walker’s scholarship to this very prestigious gathering of professional and accomplished musicians.
I need to start by thanking the wonderful citizens of our community who made Walker’s and four other young musicians attendance a reality. Without their support, these students would not have attended.
As noted by Helmick, students attended from as far away as Australia and Alaska.
I had the honor of camping and getting to know many of these students, who in large part were already very accomplished musicians, many who worked with Walker after the workshops to improve his music and his “fiddling.”
The academy is orchestrated in large part by Lisa McCoury, whose infectious good will and kindness creates a terrific learning atmosphere. With the help of her husband Rob, and her brother in law Ronnie, and some of the best bluegrass musicians anywhere, including the best fiddler in the business Jason Carter, and singer songwriter Ronnie Bowman, created the best music academy found anywhere, in my home Allegany County.
Walker and I will always be grateful to the entire McCoury family, and of course especially Del and his wonderful wife, for making Allegany County their home away from home. You all are very special people. Walker’s instructor Jason Carter, you are absolutely the best.
You could not meet kinder and more decent people than you have in this group.
My point in writing is not only to thank the McCoury family, but to drive home the point that Helmick made in his piece.
This has enormous economic potential for our staggering economy. The money that is spent here over the four days is significant and is the shot in the arm that many local businesses need, but more importantly it really puts Allegany County on the map for many.
I met so many wonderful people, all peacefully enjoying the remarkable array of fantastic music artists. I met folks from Michigan, Colorado, New York, you name it, and when asked where I lived, I proudly said that I lived “nearby;” in what seemed to be a nearly a universal response: “I wish I could live here.”
Of course I said you should and you can. It is hard not to take pride in Allegany County, with its fine people, its remarkable mountains and rivers, and its beautiful cities of Cumberland and Frostburg, to name just a few.
There are many that I am sure do not appreciate or think that this festival has anything to do with our local economy, but I am convinced otherwise, after talking to many accomplished professionals who share a common interest in American folklore music.
These are people that choose to spend their money and time here, and ultimately could decide to live and work here.
I would encourage my fellow citizens to make a date next year for Del Fest Seven, so you can also take pride that Del brought it here.
I know that many in our community have worked tirelessly to make the Del Fest a reality.
To the McCoury Family, to the weather, to our visitors, to our local government, to our law enforcement, to the countless volunteers and to the many who made this Del Fest the best ever: thank you, thank you, thank you.