MANSFIELD -- When Chris Smith took over planning his father-in-law’s annual “Helping Families with Cancer Benefit Bluegrass Festival” in 2017, he changed the name. It became “Mansfield Jamfest,” but he didn’t change its purpose -- to give back to families in the Mansfield community.
Two years in, he’s further expanding the annual bluegrass and country music festival’s giving. After this year's event (which takes place at the Richland County Fairgrounds), Smith intends to donate a portion of proceeds to Project One Recovery Road and to the family of a Mansfield Middle School boy, who was diagnosed with t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia last November.
“It’s about the music, but it’s also about the bluegrass people, attendees and sponsors are trying to make Mansfield a better place,” Smith said.
Eighth grader, Jaiden has battled pancreatitis during chemotherapy, and his mother is a full-time student, Smith said. He withheld the boy’s last name for the family’s privacy.
This summer’s festival will take place Tuesday, Aug. 20 through Aug. 24, featuring national acts like The Grascals and Flatt Lonesome, plus a mix of local and regional bands.
“Typically a bluegrass festival takes five or so years to build up, but Mansfield’s was a hit the very first year,” Smith said. “Because of this, each year, I’ve been able to add some new national acts. And this year, we’ve done better than ever.”
He anticipates approximately 1,000 people will attend the festival over the week.
Smith says the event wouldn’t be possible without event sponsors, including Mansfield Meijers, the Graham Automall, Ploger Transportation, Dimit Truck & Trailer Repair and Prestige Tent Rentals.