The threat of rain loomed overhead, with an ominous grey cloud lurking over Nocatee Town Center Field Saturday evening. But after a brief shower, the skies cleared, the sun set and festival-goers settled in for an evening of fun, live music and fundraising at the 5th Annual Roscolusa Songwriters Festival.
“It’s the best turnout that we’ve had and the biggest benefactor crowd that we’ve had,” Roscolusa founder Kim Paige said at the April 23 event. “I’m just really, really enthusiastic and excited and proud.”
In addition to Paige, this year’s Roscolusa festival featured Rick Ferrell, Cassio Monroe, Bruce Wallace, Jesse Rice, Kay Gianna and Phil Barton. Ferrell performed some of the hit songs he wrote for some of the biggest names in country music, including “Something Like That” (the barbecue stain on my white t-shirt song) and “Where Would You Be” by Martina McBride. He also paid tribute to the recent passing of Prince by singing a cover of “Little Red Corvette” and encouraging the crowd to sing along.
The festival presented a relaxed atmosphere, where children ran and played in the field – throwing a football or kicking a soccer ball. Many Nocatee residents arrived at the event via golf cart, and families picnicked on blankets or relaxed in lounge chairs while enjoying the acts. There were also many local vendors on site, including Stubbess, GuanaBana Ice Pops, North Guana Outpost, Belle of the Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery, the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, and many more.
Songs by songwriters
In 2012, Paige had the idea to host a songwriters’ retreat in her hometown of Ponte Vedra. The first festival had only 150 people in attendance and took place in a private lot located off Roscoe Boulevard, hence the name Roscolusa. The concert event grew exponentially over the years and had to be moved to a larger venue at Nocatee Town Center Field. Concert attendance is now in the thousands, and this is the first year that Paige said she feels Roscolusa is finally becoming a recognizable name among local live music festivals, thanks in part, she says, to people helping spread the word and promotion for the festival including promotion via social media platforms.
In fact, social media is how Ponte Vedra resident Angie Gray first heard about the event last year. A self-described “big music fan,” Gray said this is her second year in a row attending the festival.
“This is like five minutes from where I live – this is fantastic,” said Gray, noting she was drawn to attend because it benefits the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund to aid children battling cancer. “We’ll come every year for sure. We’re trying to get a bunch of our friends to come, too. It’s a great event.”
Volunteers wearing blue Tom Coughlin Jay Fund t-shirts were scattered throughout the festival, eager to spread the word about the organization and sell raffle tickets for prizes such as horseback riding lessons, posh getaways, golf outings, and facials. All of the proceeds from the raffle benefited the organization. When it came time to do the drawings, representatives from the organization, including volunteer and cancer survivor Luciana Butler took to the stage to share their stories of survival.
Another Jay Fund volunteer, Marie Olsen, is a supporter of the organization because of the help it gave her family when her daughter was diagnosed with cancer.
“My daughter was 19 when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and the Jay Fund helped us tremendously,” Olsen said. “When she went into remission, (the Jay Fund) gave her tickets to concerts and that kind of thing, so she really felt like she was a normal teenager again.”
The Jay Fund also helped the family financially with bills and money for Christmas, she added.
While Olsen’s daughter lost her battle with the disease, she carries on volunteering with the organization in her honor. “I didn’t even know they existed before my daughter got sick,” she said. “I’m so glad that this community has this.”