MT. VERNON — Steel guitar professional stars and local favorites will be playing this weekend for the 13th Annual Southern Illinois Steel Guitar Show.
"It's been going up in attendance every year for about the last three years," said Cord Fitch, one of the organizers of the event. "We're hoping to have about 2,500 this weekend."
The event will start Thursday, and continue on Friday and Saturday. Those who would like to attend may purchase tickets for each day or for the entire three-day weekend.
The lineup will include local favorites, as well as professionals who have worked with many stars.
"We get a lot of local players, ones that live in the St. Louis area or right here in Southern Illinois," Fitch said. Many of them never get recognized. This is a chance for them to play and get recognition. ...There are a lot of professionals who come to the show, and most people wouldn't recognize their names, but they have played with some of the best and well-known stars. There is Joe Wright, who played for Charlie Pride for years; Russ Hicks, he was the staff steel guitar player on Hee Haw for all those years. Mike Sweeney, he played for Ray Price and several others over the years. We try to have a variety."
Other big names in steel guitar that will be at the event are Mike Sigler, Jerry Newberry, Eddie Dunlap and Mike Hermsmeyer. Leona Willians and Ron Williams will be back to sing, and the master of ceremonies will be Ron Head.
Fitch said this year, Rose Sinclair of Texas will be at the show, playing her non-pedal steel guitar, as well and with her will be Herb Steiner, who also plays the non-pedal steel.
"They play a lot of Texas swing and that sort of music," Fitch said.
The public will get a chance to perform for the crowd on Thursday night, with a new talent contest.
"We thought we would let people come in and sing," Fitch said. "We've always had a little talent show, but this year, we thought we'd make it worth their while."
Singers will be able to choose from a list of about 100 songs, and be accompanied by a live band in the competition. First place will win $250 and a trophy; second place will receive $150 and a trop0hy; third place will win $50 and a trophy and fourth place will receive a trophy.
"Anybody is welcome to come and have fun," Fitch said.
The fun will take place at the Holiday Inn, Tickets are $12 for Thursday; $22 for Friday and $22 for Saturday. A three-day ticket, which will encompass all events, will be $45.
For more information, contact Fitch at 927-3158; 267-0696 or 967-4635.
The Southern Illinois Steel Guitar Show is sponsored by Southern Illinois Productions and the Mt. Vernon Convention and Visitors Bureau. Information about the Southern Illinois productions is available at www.southernillinoisproductions.org