Night of winners

SlimFest 2010 hits $73,000 and record crowd in fifth annual community concert

When Randy Lamon won $10,000 during a reverse raffle at the fifth annual SlimFest on Aug. 5, he wasn’t sure how to handle his good fortune.

When asked what he planned to do with the money, he said he had no idea. “I’m tickled to death. I’ll have to think about it,” he said with a laugh, “But my wife, Karen, already has plenty of ideas.”

Check and Tina Tipton Campbell won the diamond pendent from Phillips Jewelry in Alcoa during a separate drawing at SlimFest.

Proceeds from the evening will be split three ways this year after expenses. Sharing in the proceeds will be the Fraternal Order of Police “Shop with a Cop” program and the athletic booster clubs of Alcoa and Maryville high schools.

Steve “Slim” Stilts, a commercial insulation contractor in Alcoa, started SlimFest five years ago as a way to benefit the FOP’s program to help underprivileged children buy Christmas presents during the holidays. This year Stilts recruited the booster clubs at Alcoa and Maryville high schools to help in the effort.

Two days after the Aug. 5 event, Stilts said SlimFest 2010 grossed $73,800 before expenses.

Stilts said some of the major expenses are the stage, entertainment, tents, tables and chairs. “It’s a first-class production, and there are expenses incurred in order to offer this free concert,” he said.

Out-of-pocket expenses ran around $25,000. Generous in-kind donations from companies like Stowers , who donated $10,000 worth of generators. “We received over $40,000 of media exposure from newspaper, radio and TV from Jeff Jarnigan of B97.5, David Hall of Hall’s Salvage, Charter Media, Comcast and Blount Today,” he said. “It was like a $75,000 production, and we are getting it for $25,000 so we can keep the concert free to the public.”

Joe Anderson with Wine and Spirit Cellar donated 100 percent of the beverages in the VIP tent, Stilts said. Stilts said the crowd was dancing to Dixie Highway band and grooving to Smooth Groove until midnight. “SlimFest just keeps getting better each year. I was excited with this year’s event,” he said.

Stilts said 75 people worked hard to set up and staff the event, including 25 Alcoa and Maryville booster club volunteers, many who were experiencing their first SlimFest.

“They did an excellent job,” he said. “It would have been impossible without their help.”

Rick Wilson, principal at John Sevier Elementary, said SlimFest is a great community event. “No matter where you live in Blount County, people come together for a common cause,” he said.

Alcoa High School athletic director Josh Stephens said the residents in Alcoa are normally very supportive of the school’s athletic booster club activities, and SlimFest was no exception. “This gave them the opportunity to not only support the school but also they got to support kids of Blount County through Shop with a Cop,” he said.

Stephens said SlimFest exceeded his expectations. “I’m excited to learn what the total will be and very appreciative of what everyone has done to help make this a success,” he said.

Maryville High School athletic director George Quarles said SlimFest was a success from their perspective and not just because it was a fundraiser. “It’s been fun to see Maryville and Alcoa people together having fun,” he said. “I thought everyone enjoyed themselves.”

Brett Hall, outgoing president of the Fraternal Order of Police Bud Allison Memorial Lodge, said what he enjoyed most about SlimFest was the entire community turned out for the event. “Each year it grows and grows and grows. It’s neat how the community comes out to help those in need,” he said.

The SlimFest organizer said the annual community party is the first step in raising funds to help underprivileged children during the holidays. “Really, we all are winners in December when the FOP officers take the needy children of Blount County Christmas shopping,” he said.

The Sixth annual SlimFest will be held on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011.

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