Wow, time sure can fly by fast when you’re having ... well, frankly when you’re just trying to keep your head on straight in the middle of all manner of urgent family matters, tending to the upkeep of a 12-acre farm with two donkeys (and two mutts nearly big as donkeys), sorting out how to re-home a beehive (also nearly as big as a donkey), rehearsing for a big show (at the Bugle Boy this past weekend), preparing for an OYOU women’s retreat (this coming weekend, right here at Wilory Farm, hence the beehive emergency), answering countless work emails, handling two back-to-back "Life's a Song" workshops, and finding 90 minutes a day for grueling vocal therapy. Whew! My point is, yours truly has been so busy over the last three weeks that I just now realized how overdue I am in posting a proper recap about Tammi Fest Weekend, which happened back at the end of September. I did manage to post a quick little video when I came up for air a couple of days after the event, but then I got swept away tending to all of the above. Most of which I’m STILL tending to. But I didn’t want to go another day without attempting to express my gratitude to everyone who helped make Tammi Fest 2023 happen. So here goes ...
Like last year, we kicked things off with a ticketed in-door concert and OYOU fundraiser, held in the events space on Main Street in downtown Martindale, which was generously donated to us for the evening by Carlton Carl. We sold out of all available tickets before doors opened, with about 150-odd people squeezing into the room like a donkey crammed into a bikini. The concert was a “song swap” with Lloyd Maines and myself and our dear friends Adam and Chris Carroll. I can’t even begin to tell you how rock-solid I think Adam and Chris are, other than I just love them like family. (Lloyd, too!) It’d be one thing if I was just a flat-out huge fan of their songs (which I am); but they’re also both a joy to work with and be around. Headwater Audio set up the raised stage and ran sound like total pros, just like they do for the OYOU’s Snowbird Concert Series in the winter, and Chelsea James of Creeksouth Farms worked her tail off on the flowers and decorations. She was assisted by Michelle Rumbaut, and we called the beautification and overall vibe of the venue “Project Beautiful.” Meanwhile, a whole host of other wonderful folks — including many longtime OYOU volunteers — pulled together to make the whole night feel like a true community effort and labor of love. A whole bunch of wonderful artists and local businesses — including Winston and Connie Haun, Annette Dever, Karen Moore, Susan Warren, and Spring Lee — donated art, gift baskets, and services for our silent auction, which was expertly run by Veronica Moreno. Patty, Paul, and Lil’ Paul Sughrue with Thundercloud Subs donated sandwiches and chips for all and also helped man the check-in table. Quinton Matthews donated some of the beer and wine, and my good friend Tracy Miller, worked the donation cash bar. Sherry Ascolese drove in from San Antonio, through rush-hour traffic, to hand deliver her homemade desserts, and Doug Carpenter helped deliver ice along with my favorite neighbor, Bill Jackson (Bill’s actually my ONLY neighbor, but he’s still my favorite!) Terry Koontz, who came all the way down from Fort Worth for the weekend, helped with seating folks and with whatever else was needed, and Richard Skanse took the night off from working the door at the Bugle Boy in La Grange to help run errands and ... work the door at Tammi Fest. And documenting the whole evening (and the festivities the following day, too) was local photographer extraordinaire Christopher Paul Cardoza.
Although it was sold out, we intentionally kept ticket prices low, which even a lifelong math hater like me knows is not technically the best strategy for a fundraiser event. But this nonprofit was founded on the belief that one’s finances, just like physical and health challenges, should never get in the way of anyone attending an OYOU event. Everything we do that has a ticket price will always be priced as low as we can get it. But thankfully we also had some longtime OYOU supporters and dear friends who bought seats at the “VIP” donor tables we reserved up front, and those tables went a long way toward helping to underwrite expenses for the entire weekend. In addition, the FREE outdoor concert on Saturday was funded in part by the City of Martindale. Folks came from all over Texas — and a few even flew in from out of state — for both days, and many of them stayed overnight in Martindale and San Marcos. We collected that hotel & B&B data and will turn it into the city. It’s taken me a long time to sort through income and expenses for the weekend, but because I think transparency is important — especially when using city funds and hotel tax dollars from local businesses! — I have uploaded the income and expense sheet for Tammi Fest here, on our website.
Anyway, back to the recap! After the ticketed concert on Friday night, Tammi Fest moved outdoors Saturday afternoon and long into the evening for a free, family-friendly music festival, street dance, and art market. This was held right across the street from the venue where he had the fundraiser the night before, and once again the OYOU’s amazing team of volunteers went above and beyond, especially MVP Veronica Moreno who set up and ran the OYOU’s info and merch table. Tracy Mock helped a bit, too! Headwater Audio ran sound and lights, and Bluebonnet Electric donated huge cooler fans — and bottled water! – that helped keep everyone cool and hydrated all day long. So did Robert Moreno, who hustled and bustled for hours on end keeping coolers iced down and stocked with the donated water bottles. And Lloyd stepped up and MC’d the event, introducing every artist and band that played.
And me? Well, I DANCED. All. Day. (And Night). Long. I’m not kidding. This event took six long months to plan, and by the time Saturday came around, I made the executive decision to ... have a good time. I wanted to relax and soak up the good vibes with my friends, and to listen to and enjoy every song. Elijah Stone kicked things off with a fantastic solo set, playing atmospheric country and swing fiddle tunes with a looper(!), followed by HalleyAnna Finlay (a Martindale native!) who captivated the crowd with her latest songs accompanied by her brother, Sterling Finlay. Sterling also played upright bass with the Ditch Crickets, the whip-smart, Cajun-spiced band led by another Martindale favorite, Daniel Driver. Then it was time for Possessed by Paul James — aka Konrad West — to take the whole crowd to church with a solo set that absolutely blew us all away. (He’s also booked to play at our free Snowbird Concert Series in January, by the way — check the OYOU website for details, because trust me, you do NOT want to miss that one!)
After Possessed by Paul James, Rochelle and the Sidewinders took the stage right around sunset and really set the night ablaze. Rochelle is honestly one of my favorite singers in Texas, and frankly, that whole band takes the word “professional” to new heights. And so does Austin’s Henry Invisible, who played the last set of the night. Beth Chinderle, his other half, joined him for the last song, a funky grooving, fist-pumping, whole-body-and-soul-shaking JAM of a number that turned the whole area in front of the stage into a mosh pit. But a HAPPY mosh pit, with folks of all ages and from all walks of life having an absolute blast. It was beautiful ... and worth every ache in my body the next day from dancing my booty off! Because when I looked all around me and saw so many longtime friends and fans — and lots of happy people and families I didn’t even know, too — I was flat-out overcome with joy. I honestly don’t think I’ve smiled or laughed so much all year long.
On the conservative side, I’d estimate that we had somewhere around 375 - 400 people in attendance on Saturday. I again want to thank the City of Martindale for helping to fund the event, and the Martindale Police Department, who blocked off the street so folks could safely wander around and not worry about traffic. I also want to thank Kyle Mooty from the Lockhart Register for writing about the OYOU and Tammi Fest in advance of the event, and Shannon West from the San Marcos Daily Record, who attended on Saturday and wrote a wonderful wrap-up piece. Their support is crucial in helping to get the word out about what the OYOU is and what we do, not just for this one weekend but all year long.
Oh, one final note. This was the last year that our annual fundraiser and festival will be called “Tammi Fest.” We used to call it “Playing for Good,” but I renamed it in honor of my sister after her passing in 2018. But the truth is, it’s just too hard for me — and my family — to keep talking about her and our loss in public. There’s still a lot of grieving yet to do, but it needs to be done privately. I have honored my sister and will continue to honor her with mental health programs the OYOU is launching in 2024, but next year’s event will transition into “OYOU Fest Weekend.”
The following is income directly received at Tammi Fest and pertaining to Tammi Fest (tickets, cash bar, raffle, silent auction). This does not include donations the OYOU has received as part of our ongoing Fall Fundraiser.