The Board of Directors of the Gamble Rogers Music Festival will cancel the spring 2021 event, originally scheduled for April 30-May 2 at the Colonial Oak Music Park in downtown St. Augustine.
The annual festival honors the late James Gamble Rogers III (January 31, 1937-October 10, 1991), a famed folk musician and storyteller. His musician friends came together more than 25 years ago to celebrate his legacy with a festival held in St. Augustine, Florida — featuring national, regional, and local musicians and storytellers on several stages.
The 25th anniversary event was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and at the request of Gambles’ family, the 2021 event will also be cancelled due to the ongoing health crisis.
With the help of the St. Johns Cultural Council in 2020, an online Gamble Rogers Music Festival Concert Series took place, with 10 musicians performing on Facebook Live from May 4-15, 2020.
“The concerns about Covid safety were heard and we are grateful the board has decided to cancel the live in person festival. We are encouraged that the board will be looking at alternative ways to provide music to the community, including a virtual event. Thank you to everyone for honoring the legacy of Gamble Rogers. With deep appreciation, The family of Gamble Rogers,” said Lolly Rogers, Gamble Rogers daughter, on behalf of his family.
With a mission to create community music events and raise funds for youth music programs, board members plan to explore other ways to share music safely — possibly through virtual concerts and smaller outdoor showcases.
“I feel that the Board of Directors demonstrated its humanity by yielding to the request of Gamble’s daughters to cancel the Gamble Rogers Music Festival for 2021,” said Bob Patterson, President of the Board of Directors, founding board member, and musician friend of Gamble Rogers.
An announcement will be made in the coming weeks as to plans for upcoming events, which could include streaming concerts on YouTube with local musicians who are usually on the festival music lineup. Visit gamblerogersfest.org and stay updated on social media: Facebook at facebook.com/gamblerogersfest and on Instagram @gamblerogersfest
The Gamble Rogers Folk Festival Inc. is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the organizer of the Gamble Rogers Music Festival.
Who is Gamble Rogers?
Gamble Rogers balanced a love of balladry and folk songs with a passion for the oral tradition and storytelling. The son and grandson of influential architects, Rogers was described as both a “modern troubadour” and the “resurrection of Will Rogers and Mark Twain.” Rogers was a master performer — enchanting an audience with Travis-style guitar finger picking and relating downright rib-tickling tales about the inhabitants of the fictitious Oklawaha County.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution called Rogers, “an American treasure worthy of inclusion in the Smithsonian.” Rogers was just hitting his peak when he died on October 10, 1991, trying to save a man from drowning. The recreational area in Flagler County, where the accident occurred, was later renamed Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area.
In the liner notes of his album, Fruitcakes, Jimmy Buffett dedicated the recording to Rogers’ memory and wrote that Rogers, “taught me how to move an audience with dialogue and delivery as much as with music.” In 1993, Rogers was posthumously awarded a Folk Heritage award. Please visit gamblerogersfest.org