Jubilee draws fans far and wide

Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Dee Singer and Lloyd Houk filled ticket orders Thursday afternoon for next weekend’s Kansas Gospel Jubilee.

Ruth Ann DeForest and her 94-year-old mother, Mildred Spechman, will drive about 1,500 miles from El Cajon, Calif., to arrive in Iola Thursday. Friday and Saturday, they will attend performances of the Kansas Gospel Jubilee at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
“They’re huge fans of Greater Vision,” said Dee Singer of the Southeast Kansas Christian Artists Series, sponsor of the concerts.
“We have people coming from 18 states and have had inquiries from Canada,” Singer said. Several fans are flying from Florida. Others are coming from Wyoming and from throughout the Midwest, from Texas to Minnesota.
At the concerts, gospel greats Greater Vision, Booth Brothers and Legacy Five all will perform together at each performance.
Singer recalled visiting with Michael Booth after a Booth Brothers performance in Indiana this spring and proposing a joint concert to commemorate the 10th anniversary of SEKCAS. Singer said he leapt at the opportunity, saying “If you can pull it off, it’d be a blast.”
Organizing such an event seemingly would take months, if not years.
“It happened in about two hours,” Singer said Thursday afternoon. She e-mailed the other groups and quickly got enthusiastic responses.
Then reality set in. “How do we pull it off,” Singer thought.

“JUST TRUST in God,” said Lloyd Houk, another of the SEKCAS board members. “You just have to take a step out in faith. That’s what we did.”
Through Friday, about 1,700 of 2,250 tickets had been sold. Downstairs and balcony seats remain for Friday night’s performance. Saturday afternoon’s is sold out except for a handful of seats in the balcony. Saturday night’s show has a few downstairs seats and about 180 in the balcony left.
Doors will open an hour before each 21⁄2-hour-long performance, and Houk will play 20 minutes of “gathering music” before each concert.
For ticket information call Singer at 365-7496. Information also is available on the group’s Web site, www.sekcas.org.
Companion activities are scheduled for Saturday.
At 9 a.m. a Molly Trolley tour of Iola churches, including looks at First Presbyterian and Wesley United Methodist sanctuaries, has been arranged by Donna Houser. A tour of historic Iola homes, with a box lunch provided by Party Girls, will start at noon. Iola’s Municipal Band will perform at the bandstand on the courthouse lawn at 11 a.m. and Iola Rotarians will have a food booth featuring barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs near the bandstand from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the community for the Jubilee,” Singer said. “Many of the downtown merchants will have signs in their windows welcoming fans and will have special sales for the day. Party Girls will open early on Saturday and have breakfast rolls and coffee.” Twin Motors will even provide cars for the bands to drive while in town, Singer said.

“WHY DO OUR shows work so well each time? Because all of us of are volunteers and we all enjoy so much that we’re able to bring high-quality gospel music to Iola,” Houk said.
Positive past experiences have also helped promote the series, Singer said.
“The groups who come to Iola now go out of their way to spread the word about the Christian Artists Series, and about how exciting it is to perform at the Bowlus. To a one they’re amazed to find a venue like the Bowlus in a small town. Also without fail they talk about how accommodating the Bowlus staff is,” Singer said. “Now, we have groups calling to ask if we have an open date so they can come to Iola to perform.”
When they do, she has one wish. “Our fervent hope is that anyone touched by the music who doesn’t attend a church will find one and become active,” Singer said. “We want to bring glory to God.”