Community tradition continues with 37th Springtime Jamboree

DAGSBORO — When it first graced the stage, Ronald Reagan was president, a gallon of gasoline sold for $1.25, milk was about $1.35 a gallon and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was approaching the 1,300-point plateau.
A tradition in Sussex County since the 1980s, the 37th Springtime Jamboree takes center-stage Friday and Saturday, May 3-4 at Indian River High School in Dagsboro.

“Every year … for 37 years,” said State Sen. Gerald Hocker, who launched the jamboree as a parent and family business owner. “When we closed that very first show, I said as long the community supported this and I was able to, that we’d continue it. And the community has supported it and I have always been able. So, God works in great ways.”

Local country and gospel music intertwined with comedy acts comprise the entertainment in the two-night mega-fundraiser.
“There is an awful lot of good local talent. This gives them a chance to perform,” said Sen. Hocker.

This year’s event benefits the Fenwick Island Lions Club and its outreach programs that include Camp Barnes (the Delaware State Police summer camp for youth) and community charities.

“Fenwick Lions, they help a lot of other organizations. A big portion of the proceeds is going to Camp Barnes. They do a great job helping the state police with the facilities at Camp Barnes,” Sen. Hocker said.

Last year’s Springtime Jamboree raised approximately $30,000 for the Millville Volunteer Fire Company. The 2017 jamboree benefited the River Soccer Club.

Submitted photo
State Sen. Gerald Hocker, left, started the Springtime Jamboree 37 years ago in efforts to support the community. The benefit event showcases country, western and gospel musical and comedic talent.

Past beneficiaries have included Pop Warner, Little League programs, volunteer fire companies, Delaware Hospice and Lions International organizations, among others.

“I originally started it for Lower Sussex Little League,” said Sen. Hocker. “They were just getting started and needed money desperately. We have done it several times for them.”

Showtime both nights is 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Ron Howard, at the piano, will provide pre-show entertainment each night, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and are available at any Hocker’s business location (G&E Inc., in Bethany Beach, and Hocker’s Super Center in Clarksville) or any Fenwick Island Lions members. Patrons may also call in advance (539-4140) to reserve tickets that can be picked up at the door upon payment, Sen. Hocker said.

Members of the Hocker family are among the performers.
Returning this year from Nashville after a 2018 hiatus is Sen. Hocker’s daughter, country singer/recording artist Beth Cayhall. She missed last year’s event due to a date with motherhood.

“She is home to perform in this year’s show. She missed last year because of her son being born,” said Sen. Hocker. “My son Gerry Jr. will be performing his sister, Beth. He is also the one that put together our backup band, which you’ll find is fantastic. And they have to be able to play so many songs with only one rehearsal with so many different performers.”

A guitarist, Sen. Hocker is a musical part of jamboree tradition.

“The Jamboree Boys, which is the band that my father and I put together, has always opened the show at 7 o’clock. I am the only one of those original Jamboree Boys that plays,” said Sen. Hocker. “We have put together a good group. We have fun playing. It’s all volunteer.”

Other performers will George Keen (master of ceremonies), Ron Howard (pre-show), John Stephens and Scott Evans (comedy), Eleventh Hour (band), Floyd Megee Jr., Gerry Hocker, Charlie Lynch, Trent Hitchens, Nikki Ireland, Beth Bruette, Cheryl Howard, George Jenkins, Edwin Swieczkowski, Beth Ann Cayhall, Jamie Parker, Jimmy Holson, Lily Border, Linda Magarelli, Reggie Helms, Jamboree Boys, Tyler Bare, Gregory Hocker, Bill Ulmer, Grace Otley, Kevin Short.

The jamboree’s longevity is a testament to the community, Sen. Hocker says.

“Thirty-seven years … and it’s still going. The community looks forward to it every year. They ask when we are going to have it,” he said. “My hardest job is selling the first ticket and people say they can’t believe they haven’t been to it in prior years. It makes you feel good.”

“This is just our family’s way of giving back to the community because they have been so good supporting our business,” Sen. Hocker said.

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