SlimFest concert draws 3,000 people and $50,000 for charity

More than 3,000 people enjoyed the sounds of Smooth Groove during the SlimFest free community concert Saturday, Aug. 2. The event raised more than $50,000 and benefited two children’s charities.

The event is named after Steve “Slim” Stilts, a commercial insulation company owner who organized the concert around the time of his birthday three years ago to benefit the Fraternal Order of Police’s Shop with a Cop program and the New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center.

This year’s event was bigger than the first two. “It went great. I was very pleased with it,” said Stilts. “I think there were as many people there as there were at the first two put together.”

Stilts said he enjoyed seeing the community join in the fun. “SlimFest is not all about my birthday. It’s to raise money for kids. The birthday is just a reason to throw a party,” he said. “Something I like a lot is that this is for local charities, and the funds stay local. That means a lot to me.”

Reverse raffle tickets were sold for a chance to win $10,000 taxes-paid cash. In addition, there was a drawing for a diamond pendent from Phillips Jewelry and for 103.5 gallons of gas from KenJo Markets and Blount Today. Beverley Garrett, Stilt’s assistant, won the pendent, Brad Hunt of Madisonville won the gas, and Richard Embry won the cash prize.

David Hall, one of the corporate sponsors of the event and master of ceremonies with B-97.5’s Jeff Jarnigan, thanked B-97.5 and 103.5 for their help. Hall said the event raised money for children, and he was glad to be at the fundraising concert. “There’s no where I’d rather be tonight than Blount County,” he said.

Rick Ford, Maryville, said, “This is the best things that happens in Blount County during this time of the year. You have a free concert, good food and friends. It’s like one big family.”

Ford said one of the best things about the event is the charities it supports. “It’s a great fundraiser. This is the third year, but it’s the biggest by far,” he said.

Karen Towne of Maryville said she and Robert Paul came to the event for the music. “We wanted to listen to great music, and it’s for a great cause,” she said.

Alberta and Peter Harris of Tellico Village were enjoying the sounds of Smooth Groove Saturday night. “We just moved here four or five weeks ago, saw this was taking place and asked about it,” she said.

Peter Harris said he liked the price for the concert. “Anytime it’s free, it’s always fun,” he said.

Deputy Ronnie Reagan with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office said the fundraiser, which raises money through raffle tickets and the sale of food and beverages, is a good thing for the Fraternal Order of Police and the New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center. “SlimFest has done a lot of good things to help Shop with a Cop and the Children’s Advocacy Center,” he said.

Officer Brett Hall with the Maryville Police Department said he is the sergeant at arms with the Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP uses money raised at SlimFest to underwrite the cost of Shop with a Cop, the program that gives underprivileged children the opportunity to go Christmas shopping.

“We do appreciate this very much. It’s neat to see the community come together,” he said.

Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher said he’s known Stilts a long time. “He’s always been willing to reach out and help people,” Hatcher said.

Sunny Day of Louisville said the event was good for the community. “I have criticized some things we do in Blount County, but we do more that’s right than wrong,” he said.

Jarrod Millsaps, community outreach director with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, said people in the community came together not only to celebrate Stilts’ birthday, but also to help charities that benefit children. “It shows our community comes together to support their children,” he said.

Trudy Hughes, executive director of the New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, was thankful for everything Stilt’s had done. “This is awesome. We couldn’t have accomplished any of this without Slim,” she said.

Stilts thanked the sponsors and, always looking ahead to the next year, invited any new sponsors to participate in the 2009 event.

“I want to thank all of the SlimFest sponsors for their donations, not only in funds, but also their in-kind donations. This event would not be possible if we had to purchase everything that is needed to have an event of this magnitude. A very special thanks to my in-kind sponsors: Stowers Rental, Wine & Spirits Cellar, Phillips Jewelry, and all of the media team: Blount Today, B97.5, 103.5 WIMZ, Charter Media, WVLT, WATE and WBIR. What a team.”

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