LeMars, Iowa…..”When someone mentions a ‘teddy bear’ in
country music, those fans of early classic country music know
immediately what and who they are talking about.  Newer country music
fans who do not have that kind of connect, probably don’t know what a
‘teddy bear’ ever had to do with country music.”

     Bob Everhart, is probably the longest running promoter
of early traditional and classic country music in the upper Midwest. 
He’s also a performer and recording artist of the same music genre, not
the least being his Grammy nominated album released by the Smithsonian
Institution.  “I really like traditional country music,” Everhart
recently said in an interview on KMA Radio in Shenandoah, Iowa.  “KMA
Radio is where all the early performers of country music performed” he
said.  “The Everly Brothers, Bill Monroe and his brother Charlie (now
there’s an interesting story, Bill Monroe married a girl from Clarinda,
Iowa), and tons more, even a little teddy bear.”
     Everhart, who is the mover and shaker behind America’s
Country Music Hall of Fame, is also very outspoken about awards, merit,
honor, and pride. “It’s so difficult to understand why a Hall of Fame
dedicated to country music, located in Nashville, Tennessee, has so few
honored by them.  Country music is an international genre of music, and
that includes all the players of it, from the earliest times in the
Appalachian Mountains, to the first beginner somewhere in California. 
Why is that such a ‘closed’ operation.  We had to do something about it,
and we did in 1976.  We started with those artists that have made
significant contributions to the music here in the State of Iowa.  Then
we went to the upper Midwest, and then we went ‘National,’ and then we
went ‘International.’  That’s covering a lot of ground in 38 years, and
we haven’t slowed down even a little bit.  This year is our 38th year of
hosting the festival where these Hall of Fame inductions take place,
and this year is no exception when it comes to celebrities making the
trek to the corn fields of Iowa to reap this award.  One of the most
interesting ones, is a teddy bear.”
     The location of the festival Everhart is talking about
is the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa, where the festival
has been held for the past six years.  Before that it was held in
Council Bluffs, Avoca, and Missouri Valley.  “We’ve moved for various
reasons,” Everhart said, “mostly because of an outrageous increase in
rental fees, or simply because someone else thought they could take it
over.  We’ve been strong about keeping what we do directly involved with
traditional and classic country music, bluegrass music, even folk
music, and sometimes loud electric bands and musicians don’t agree with
that philosophy, so they try to imitate what we do.  It’s for some of
these same reasons we have so many celebrities involved in what we do. 
They come to Iowa to receive what they consider a very ‘real’ honor. 
This isn’t something you can buy, or imitate, or even pretend to get. 
It’s the real-deal, and it comes directly from the people I represent,
rural Iowa.  We already have a number of celebrities coming for Hall of
Fame inductions this year, Mickey Gilley, Kenny Seratt, Joanne Cash
(Johnny’s sister), Dr. Harry Yates (founder of Cowboy Church), LuLu
Roman (from Hee Haw), Roger Tibbs (from New Zealand), and I just got
word that the beautiful girl from Arkansas that made a song called “The
Teddy Bear” famous is going to be with us this year.  That’s
right, Barbara Fairchild is bringing a teddy bear, to put in America’s
Country Music Hall of Fame, right next to her picture.  What a great
country song that was, and what a very nice lady it is that recorded
it.  Her husband Roy Morris is also going to be with us.”
      The festival begins August 26, and goes all the way
through September 1 (the full week before Labor Day), and it runs from
9am in the morning to midnight every day on ten stages.  When asked why
there are so many stages, Everhart said, “We have over 600 performers,
pickers, singers, entertainers, musicians coming to this event every
year, and they all want to play, and they all want pay.  Well, we can
get them on a stage, but we can’t always pay them, there are just simply
too many, but we don’t turn anyone away.  We believe there’s a time and
season for all things, and this one singular event in the corn fields
of Iowa, is where anyone who is pursuing being an entertainer can
participate, learn, perform, and even achieve that very important step
of entertaining a large audience.  That’s why we welcome with open arms,
a little teddy bear to this year’s festivities.”

     The organization Everhart is president of has a website for more information at www.ntcma.net

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