Commonwealth Journal

Local News

November 7, 2013

Master Musicians Festival wins top honor

Somerset —

First Willie, then the world — or at least the southeastern United States.
Somerset’s own Master Musicians Festival took home a prestigious prize Tuesday night in Florida, being named the smaller-size “Event or Festival of the Year” for this part of the country.
The honor came courtesy of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Shining Example Awards. MMF beat out festivals from an area including 14 different U.S. states to take home the top prize for events hosting under 100,000 people. (There is another category for events with more than that number in attendance.)
“It felt so good seeing the board members’ faces (when they heard the news), with all the hard work they’ve done, all the hard work we’ve done together,” said Tiffany Bourne, MMF president. “We took a big chance this year and it paid off.”
That risk was in spending a substantial chunk of the budget — albeit one for which MMF had prepared for and saved over the last few years — to bring in country music icon WIllie Nelson this past summer. The festival was celebrating its 20th anniversary and wanted to make a splash with the kind of big-name act rarely seen in this part of Kentucky.
Clearly, it got the attention of the right people.
“Willie Nelson brought a new light to the festival,” said Bourne. “It helped bring the community to love (MMF) even more. You could feel the proudness from the community, and it hasn’t worn off yet.”
It was that sense of community ownership that Bourne said really sealed the deal for the non-profit MMF — made up of all unpaid board members — to win.
“When I accepted the award and told them more about our organization and how we’re all volunteers,  people from all walks of life getting together to do something cool for the community,” said Bourne, “(awards personnel) came up to me afterwards and told me, ‘That’s the reason we chose you guys.’ We’re doing it right.

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