Harvest Fest Raises Over $10K for St. Jude
Joe Mahan Ford of Paris, Gator Bait Records and Film, and many area businesses came together to support and raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during the Gleason Harvest Fest 2022. This event was also inspired by a local family whose own child was touched by cancer.
Jake and Melinda Barker of Gleason recently found out their granddaughter, Emma, had a low-grade Fibromyxoid Sarcoma on the outside of her colon. She has since had surgery to remove the cancer at St. Jude and is currently cancer free and will return to Memphis regularly for check-ups.
Joseph Rainone, otherwise known as JoJo Gator, is friends with the Barkers and decided that the best way to raise money was to have a concert. The family has always supported and given money to St. Jude, and after the help they were able to provide to their granddaughter, Jack and Melinda wanted to raise money this year and also make this an annual event.
Being held at Barker Auction in Gleason, residents gathered last Saturday and Sunday for live music, children arts and crafts, food, a talent show and live music from special artists.
The headliner this year was Michael Rix, out of Nashville, who performed both evenings with Forest Brandon being the special guest for Saturday night. Also performing was Blackberry Moon. Residents took part in karaoke and Kayla Dyer served as a guest speaker. Dyer also had cancer twice as a child and grew up in Weakley County. She spoke about the importance of St. Jude and what money raised can do for families.
“We would like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting St. Jude. On behalf of our son and daughter-in-law and Emma, our granddaughter, we would also love to thank everyone for their donations to save the babies. Because that’s what we are trying to do,” Melinda Barker stated.
Matthew and Amy Barker, parents of Emma, were unable to attend this year’s Harvest Fest but the family assured everyone that Emma was in much better health and spirits.
A children’s crafts booth was available for a small fee, and children could decorate pumpkins, draw, and make fall/Halloween inspired crafts. A raffle was held both days of the festival, and meats, ammo, gift cards and coupons from area businesses were raffled off.
Also part of the Harvest Fest, a talent show was held Sunday evening with the winner of it receiving a full length CD which would be released through Sony’s The Orchard with the total package coming to a total of $10,000.
Contestants who entered the talent show had 15 minutes to perform two songs for the judges, who included song-writer and producer Steve Lupo, his wife Diane Lupo, who is a voice teacher, and music artist Michael Rix.
Everyone who entered the contest will be able to record one song for free, either an original or a cover with Joseph Rainone in his studio located in Gleason.
The contest was originally for $10,000, but when the judges came to a tie and were unable to pick a winner, Rainone let both musicians be winners and each received a $10,000 recording prize.
Jonathan Serling, known as Silver onstage, of Ripley, TN, was informed about the talent show from friends in the area and has worked in the music industry at many different levels. Being a sound engineer, currently recording an album, he hopes for this album with Ramone to be in the indie style and thinks that he currently has all ten of his songs written.
“Not surprising, I have been in this life for a long time and glad that all the hard work has paid off,” Serling stated about winning.
Cameran Haag, is still a senior in high school and lives in Cadiz, KY. He bought his first guitar just one year ago. He started writing music around that time. He did not think that the songs he sang would win him the grand prize, but he was very happy they did. He mainly entered to help with his stage fright and hopes that he can make a bluegrass/country album.
Haag stated, “I don’t really deserve this, but I have worked really hard and hope that I can be a better me on it.”
They will begin with coming into the studio and learn about improving their songs and will advance to having musicians come in to record the album. Rainone said that the albums should be done in Spring or Summer of 2023. After the release, they plan to sell CD’s, sign CD’s, and open for as many artists as they can. Rainone will also help them through the process at every step of getting the album made and distributed.
Through networking, online donations, the children’s crafts table, raffles and donations made during the weekend, a total of $10,209 was raised for St. Jude.
While there were many sponsors for this years event, and the following were specially mentioned: Joe Maham Ford, KR Trucking, UPS in Paris, Abbotts Printing in Paris, EW James, THE Bowling Alley in Paris, Thelma’s Skateland 2 in Union City, The Haunted Escape Maze of Paris and all others who donated prizes or supported in any way was thanked by the organizers of this event.