During a meeting with Michael Johnathon of Lexington’s Woodsongs in 2005, he suggested that Lexington had “an unrecognized art form in bluegrass music.”
From his suggestion, The Southland Association Board of Directors decided to provide free outdoor bluegrass concerts for the community, and things fell quickly into place. The concerts were designed to feature top local and regional bands and be free to the public. The Southland Association became an equal partner with LFUCG Parks and Recreation for the purpose of presenting the Jamboree. The first concert was on May 9, 2006.
Funds for paying the Jamboree expenses are mostly provided by sponsors of each event. The city was providing part of the funding. Collins Bowling gets a huge amount of credit for their willingness to let the Jamboree be held on their property without charge through the 2014 season. All surrounding merchants also allowed parking in their parking lots for fans of the Jamboree.
Starting with the 2015 season we started a new chapter in the Southland Jamboree’s history. Due to construction on the Jamboree grassy field on the Collins property, the Jamboree moved to Monday Nights at the Moondance Amphitheater in Beaumont Center. At Moondance, we have excellent permanent stage and sound facilities, increased audience space and parking, while still not being far away from our original space on Southland Drive.
In 2018, the leaders of the Southland Jamboree announced that the season would be cancelled due to lack of funding. After an outpouring of support, the Southland Jamboree started a GoFundMe to save the event. In the next few weeks, the Southland Jamboree community came together to raise $6000 to bring back the 2018 season and continue the tradition.
In 2019, the Southland Jamboree became a registered as a 501c3 non-profit organization and moved their concert night to Thursday evenings.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life across the world. For the safety of the community, the Southland Jamboree cancelled most concerts. However, there was a single live special event with two bands in September at Moondance Amphitheater.
2021 saw a measured return to concerts while still being careful about COVID-19. Ten concerts were scheduled, on roughly half the Thursdays during the summer, as the Moondance venue was offered to us.