Started in 1990, this year marks the 20th year for the celebration started by event promoter, Evelyn Roush.
Roush, who has been ‘singing since she could talk’, said that the idea to hold the event came to her in 1983 when she and the ‘Reflections’ trio were looking for a place to sing.
“I remember well of God’s touch as I walked by the telephone and it was as if He spoke saying, ‘Go ahead and plan your own event,’” Roush said. “That’s when I called Pastor Clyde Fields (now deceased). It all started in his church.”
Today, the jubilee has a new home in Cottageville at the Jackson County Jr. Fairgrounds. For the past six years, this venue has transformed into a huge celebration, full of ‘surprises and blessings.’
“We are continuing to grow and expand our camping area,” Roush said. “This year, we even have more shelter.”
Before having the event at the fairgrounds, Roush said that the event tried finding homes at the Mason County Fairgrounds and the West Virginia State Farm Museum.
“Both were great,” Roush said. “But each year, we grew in number of performers and attendees, and it seemed like there was never enough shelter.” She continued to say that during the years at the farm museum, it always seemed to rain. With having the shelter and drainage systems in Cottageville, Roush feels confident that the no rain can ruin the event.
The Bend Area Gospel Jubilee, named to let others know that they are ‘along the bend of the river’, offers free fun for all with special events taking place during the six day celebration. The logo, created especially by Denise Bonecutter, depicts a bend in the river with a cross and singers.
“Our logo is wonderful,” Roush said. “Wherever people see it, they know it’s us — The Bend Area Gospel Jubilee.”
With singing by special groups, dinners and evangelists, the 2010 schedule of events is jam-packed with tons of talented music and preaching.
The event kicks off Monday, May 31 and runs until Saturday, June 5. Over 50 singing groups and soloists will be featured and Roush promises that there is room for everyone to attend.
During the event, concessions will be provided by the Grace Gospel Baptist Church of Ripley and camping each night is $12. All camping comes with water and electric. Roush said that although she can’t reserve spaces, all units are well groomed and spots are on a first come, first serve basis. She also said that those wishing to camp need to bring a water pressure regulator. Camping attendants are Bill and Angie McCallister, who are already on the grounds.
“We have people come from all over to attend,” Roush said. “Our campers come from 11 states alone.” A special event kicks off on the first day at 4 p.m. to celebrate 20 years of the jubilee. Also at that time, a potluck supper will take place in the dining room. Those attending are encouraged to bring enough food to share.
Entertainment for Monday night includes Miss Priscilla and friends from Lancaster, Ohio. Roush said that this Christian comedy act will be special for Miss Priscilla as it is her first time to perform in the area.
Also during the first day, supporters, volunteers and other special people involved with the gospel jubilee will be recognized and honored. And at 7 p.m., all are welcome to reminisce and join in the fellowship, singing and jamming of the musical instruments.
And all of that is just the beginning. For the next five days, singing groups and preaching will take place center stage. All singing begins at 5 p.m. each night.
On the final day of the celebration, an auction will take place at the fairgrounds at 10 a.m. by auctioneer Gordon Johnson and friends. Items can be donated for bidding and proceeds will benefit the jubilee.
Roush, who prides herself in being one of the only promoters she knows who does not use a computer, says that she is constantly making contacts with singers and groups and recruiting them to sing in the jubilee. “Many churches and special people believe in my calling and have stood behind me,” Roush said. “I’ve never had a computer as most promoters do today, but I’ve always felt close to the groups I invite by talking to them on the telephone and mailing many letters as well.”
She continued to say that she truly treasures the friendships that the jubilee has created for her.
“I am truly a blessed person, as God has blessed me with health to carry on this calling in my life,” Roush said.
As the big celebration nears, Roush is gearing up and looking forward to the many blessings that will take place.
“I always look forward to the gatherings around the alter,” Roush said. “We want to see people saved and we will stop for people’s needs because that is what it is about.”
The promoter, who also sings in the Roush Family, a family gospel group that has been singing together for six years, recalls singing with her family as some of her favorite memories.
“We really appreciate everyone’s support to keep this singing event coming back every year,” Roush said. “I could never have done it with God’s blessing and the love and support from all the volunteers.”