Dogwood Jamboree, Palestine's own Branson-style, country music-themed quarterly show, expects to again draw roughly 500 visitors from around Texas and surrounding states. The "Now That's What I Call Country" show starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Palestine High School auditorium.
The jamboree's fall show will feature local comedians, vocalists, and musicians, including two or three youth contestants, who will vie for a chance to compete at the Jamboree's finale Dec. 7.
Now in its 15th year, the jamboree will draw nearly 100 loyal followers who attend regularly from Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, said Pastor Dan Manuel.
Manuel is the Jamboree's founder, organizer, and emcee, but it's far from a one-man show.
“His Harmony,” a seven-man a capella group from Dallas, will headline the show, performing eight gospel favorites. Guest performers also will include Hannah Dodson of Oklahoma and Mark Bryant of Tyler.
Among the show's regulars are Sissy Perry from Corsicana, Joe Hancock from Hallsville, locals W.J. Copeland and Rodney Ray, and the Dogwood Jamboree Band.
The Dogwood Jamboree Talent Search will spotlight three new performers: Tori Cole from Crockett, Texas; Kaylee Hulwell from Tyler; and Mary Clare from Sherman. The Talent Search, a regular feature, allows youth to compete in the Jamboree's December finale.
Twelve young people have performed for the Jamboree this year. Auditions for 30 youth contestants, 18 or younger, began in January.
“Many have gone on to perform for American Idol and America's Got Talent,” Manuel said.
Aside from offering “some of the finest country music in East Texas,” Manuel said, the Jamboree benefits the economy.
Manuel sends thousands of emails to draw visitors, but he can't predict who will come.
“We've had bus loads come from out of state or from cities in the state—from Amarillo, all the way south to Corpus Christi and Victoria,” he said.
Many who stay at Salmon Lake Park near Grapeland this week for a Christian-gospel RV rally will likely attend Saturday's performance.
Mary Raum, Palestine's tourism and marketing manager, told the Herald-Press all events in Palestine “trickle-down” to the local economy. “When [guests] come to a concert, they dine together before or go out for drinks afterward,” she said.
Moreover, visitors who travel more than two hours—including many older guests who enjoy the concert's “nostalgic” vibe—are more likely to stay at a hotel or use other overnight accommodations, which also bolster the city's tax base.
The December program will feature The Hot Shots, an all-youth bluegrass country music group from Houston, and the Palestine High School Varsity Choir, who will sing Christmas music.
Advance tickets to the Jamboree are $12.50 each, and will be available through Friday, Oct. 18 at 5 p.m., at Hometown Pharmacy, Pronto's Pizza, Cavendar's, Mail and More, or by calling 903-729-7080.
The cost for tickets at the door is $15 per adult or $6 for children 8 and younger. For information, visit dogwoodjamboree.com.