On the first Saturday of every month, the little Texas town of New Baden turns on the charm and turns up the volume at the New Baden Jamboree. The Jamboree has been happening regularly for over 50 years – at the beginning on every Saturday, and now every first Saturday of the month.
The New Baden Jamboree is sponsored by the New Baden/Camp Creek Lions Club. Lions Club International is a civic service organization founded in 1917 and currently the largest worldwide service club organization. The New Baden/Camp Creek Lions Club organizes the Jamboree, serves the delicious New Baden Burgers that go along with it, and maintains the facility where the Jamboree is held.
“Hardy Ellison originally started the Jamboree on the Franklin, Texas, town square in 1954,” explains Howard DeHart, historian and member of the local Lions Club. “It gave young folks something to do on a Saturday night. Now all ages come from miles around to enjoy the music.”
Long-time resident E.W. Bridwell and his band The Stetson Trio often open the show with his trademark style of traditional music and downhome humor. Regional bands follow, with three or four groups scheduled per evening. At the upcoming June show the first band scheduled to play is Rimshot, a group made up of residents from nearby Robertson and Brazos Counties. Charles Ellison, son of the man who started the Jamboree over 50 years ago, will perform later in the lineup.
Most of the audience are return patrons. Over the years, they have grown to know each other, and the Jamboree serves as a welcome chance to meet up with friends and socialize in a relaxed environment. The evening is as much about friends and family as it is about music, and it doesn’t take long for newcomers to feel like old friends in the welcoming atmosphere.
In between musical groups, the emcee pauses for an entertaining (and delicious) cake auction that serves as a fundraiser for the New Baden/Camp Creek Lions Club and helps defray the costs of putting together the Jamboree. Local cooks supply the tasty auction items – and label them so folks can be sure their favorites bring respectable bids. At a recent auction, one cake baked by a loyal 95-year-old attendee brought $100 – and an appreciative enthusiastic round of applause.
Each Jamboree performance promises downhome entertainment and congenial socializing. Food service opens at 5:00 p.m. and music starts at 6:00 p.m. The Jamboree takes place in the New Baden Community Center on the first Saturday of each month, and the public is invited to attend. For more information you can check the Camp Creek website.