By Tony Parra
FLOYD — The weekend installments of the Floyd Country Jamboree featuring local country music talent from eastern New Mexico featured big crowds and an attendance streak that has yet to be broken.
Over the years the show has grown and Panny and Polly Biggler have witnessed the Jamboree since its inception. Panny was one of the original Floyd Lions Club member when the show first started.
Panny has been married to Polly for 59 years and they have watched the show for all 55 years.
“The show is a lot the same like the first year,” Panny Biggler said. “Local talents all over the state and west Texas come to perform.”
Polly Biggler said they have seen all of the performers grow up through the show, even when was just a one-night affair. Panny said organizers used to have to turn down people who came to the show because it was too full in the auditorium.
The 55th Annual Floyd Country Jamboree, sponsored by the Floyd Lions Club, finished up the third of four performances at the old basketball gym of Floyd High School.
The Jamboree finishes up today with a gospel music performance, starting at 2 p.m. Admission is free.
On Friday the middle portion of the high school gym with rows of steel chairs were filled with people with patches of people on the outside wooden bleachers. However, on Friday even the wooden bleachers were filled and people were standing in the gym.
Dave Nash was the emcee for the event both nights and again he delighted the crowd with jokes.
On Saturday, Nash turned the microphone over to fellow Lions Club members during halftime. During that time, Harold and Jima Widener were named the Floyd Citizens of the Year.
Alan Carter watched his son perform on the fiddle. Nine-year-old Coby Carter played on the fiddle, while 10-year-old Hayden Hatley played on the guitar for the audience.
“I love it,” Coby Carter said about playing the fiddle. “It’s a lot of fun. We practice together and we have the same music teacher.”
Alan Carter said his son used to play the piano, but he got tired of it and wanted to play the fiddle instead. Alan Carter said Noel Rippee, director of the jamboree, helped Coby in his jamboree performance last year.
Jeff Essary, a Lions Club member and 1992 graduate of FHS, felt the performances were on par with any of the other Jamborees he’d seen.
“I think it’s one of the best bands we’ve ever had and some of the singers are the best singers we’ve ever had.”
The Floyd Lions Club sponsors the New Mexico Lions Eye Foundation, which conducts free eye screening for school-age children and up. The Floyd Lions Club helps with scholarship funds, money prizes for essays, scholarships for high school seniors, Boys’ State and Girls’ State.
Essary said the Jamboree is the club’s only fund-raising event, and bigger crowds have been paying off for the community.
We’re a non-profit organization,” Essary said. “It all goes back to the community. We’ve had such good shows in the past that we were able to add a third scholarship (a few years ago) and bump up the award amount for the others.”
While there were plenty of Jamboree veterans like Essary, there was also plenty of room for rookies.
“It’s my first year performing,” Sharon Dictson of Portales said. “There were more people than in previous years. I’ve been to it before, but never performed in it. I finally talked myself into doing it. I’ve been blessed to be chosen.”
The Floyd Lions’ Club members were able to raise $3,400 during last year’s Jamboree, according to Houston Lee, a member of the Floyd Lions Club. Lee estimated an average of 400 people attended each night’s events last year.
PNT Managing Editor Kevin Wilson contributed to this report.