Want to know more about the upcoming Cajun & Blues Music Festival? Check out this interview with Director of Marketing Jeff Newby!

Jeff Newby, Director of Marketing for the Cajun & Blues Music Festival, talks with Alicia Doyle of the Ventura County Star about the 24th Annual Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival.  The festival is a two day event filled with music, food, and fun for the whole family, and will be taking place this weekend, May 25th and 26th.  Don’t miss out!

Interview with Alicia Doyle of the Ventura County Star:

How do you spell your first and last name?  Jeff Newby

What city do you live in?  Simi Valley

What is your title with Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise?  At large member of the board of directors

What is your role/involvement with The 24th Annual Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival?  Director of Marketing (a volunteer position)

For folks/readers unfamiliar with this annual event: what makes this festival so special/unique?  We’ve combined the equivalent of an international music festival with a neighborhood clam bake.  We have world class performers on two giant stages, each with its own dance floor.  Included are current and previous Grammy winners, a variety of current blues nominees and winners from the just completed Blues Music Awards.  There’s a third stage in the huge kids area called The Discovery Stage which features everything from a local talent show to up and coming professional youth bands.  Then there’s some cross pollination with Lisa Haley from the Cajun-Zydeco stage introducing the various percussion instruments used in her band to the kids.  And Hohner Harmonica is sponsoring a harmonica workshop put on by blues musician Gary Allegreto where everybody will learn to play a blues song on the harmonica.  And there’s dance lessons on the Cajun-Zydeco stage between the bands. There’s also a crafts area for kids, over 100 craft and merchandise booths, more than three dozen food booths including everything from traditional barbecue to Cajun & Creole delights.  So it’s truly a “bring your own chair” festival with something to do for everybody against a background of world class Cajun, Zydeco, Blues and Roots music.

What are the event highlights? What can participants and attendees expect?  Besides everything listed above, there is also a Mardi Gras style parade each day where everybody is invited to participate.  Over 200 west coast swing dancers are expected to attend and dance up a storm to the blues music.  

How much money is this event hoping to raise this year?  We hope to raise enough that we can continue to support over 30 local and regional charities plus various Rotary International projects.  Over the past 23 years we have raised and distributed approximately $ 1.5 million.

And how, exactly, will event proceeds have a positive impact? How will the money be used and who will benefit? Please provide specifics)  Proceeds from this festival have put containers of wheel chairs in third world countries; they have helped support the eradication of polio in India; funds have supported the Boys & Girls Club, Boy Scouts of America, 40H programs, Youth Employment Services, college scholarships, explorer scouts, YMCA, Simi Valley Senior Center, Meals on Wheels, Life Alert systems, Simi Valley Council on Aging, the American Cancer Society “Relay For Life,” battered women’s & children’s center, Care and Share, Coalition to End Family Violence, Free Clinic of Simi Valley, Samaritan Center of Simi Valley, Simi Valley Education Foundation, Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, Simi Valley Police Reserves and K-9 unit, Simi Valley Soccer Foundation, Nancy Reagan Breast Center, For the Troops, and many more.

What is the ultimate goal of this event? What positive impact is this festival ultimately hoped to have?  The ultimate goal is to provide a unique community event that will generate money we can put back into the community.  It’s a way to have a great time, at a reasonable price, and help the community.

Why are community fundraising events of this nature so important/vital to Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise? Our membership is dedicated to supporting both our local community and the international community supported by Rotary International.  Our club prides itself as being one of the most active and aggressive clubs throughout not only our district but throughout the country in our fund raising efforts and distribution of money to those that need our support.  We have won multiple awards locally and nationally for our efforts which every member of our club is extremely proud of.  The Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise currently has 130 members all working toward providing community service.  

Please add anything else you’d like me to include in my article: One other factor that makes this festival work is that we have corporate sponsors who provide funds and/or services that allow us to be able to put this festival on.  Without their seed money, we would not be able to produce such an extensive festival using only volunteers.  There are over 400 volunteers that manage and work this festival.