For 30 years jazz aficionados arrived at the Graeagle picnic grounds on Sunday afternoons to listen to music, dance and visit with longtime friends.
But last Sunday marked the end of the era that began in 1982 when Julius “Julie” Cardoza and Herb Newell, now both deceased, established the concerts.
They were both members of the Feather River Dixieland Jazz Society and the proceeds raised by the concerts helped the society send children to music camp.
The society also raised money by making and selling wreaths during the holidays.
Wanda Wideriksen, the society’s current president, said that it’s the remaining proceeds from the years of wreath making, that have enabled the society to continue giving scholarships.
The concerts are now losing money. “We are losing about $2,000 a concert,” said Wideriksen, noting that the average attendance is around 50, far fewer than the crowds that used to pack the grounds.
Wideriksen said that the most faithful attendees aren’t locals. “Most people come from elsewhere, such as Reno, Greenville and Chico,” she said.
It’s been a frustration for the society that they couldn’t draw more local attendance.
In the series’ earlier days, the grounds were packed as was the dance floor.
“It’s the end of an era,” Wideriksen said.
The society went out in style Sunday with performances by both Jazz City and Cats & Jammers, plus a free barbecue dinner for all attendees.
Though the jazz society will no longer offer concerts, it is continuing to accept donations for its scholarship fund.
Donations can be sent to Feather River Dixieland Jazz Society, P.O. Box 667, Graeagle CA, 96103.
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