OIBF Mission Statement
The mission of the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, Inc. (OIBF) is to organize an annual world class festival; to support the bluegrass industry in Oklahoma, to educate the people of Oklahoma and beyond about bluegrass music, its history and dominance in Oklahoma, and to promote the annual festival throughout the state, creating an on-going state resource that serves Oklahoma's economic development. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, our primary goal is to support youth through music scholarships and continuing music education opportunitites.
History of The Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival
The Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival is the brainchild of Byron Berline, three-time national fiddle champion and current resident of Guthrie, Oklahoma. During his travels throughout the world, Berline has been a kind of unofficial bluegrass ambassador to China, Mexico, Australia, Germany, and most points in-between.
While speaking to bluegrass fans worldwide, Berline saw the need for a festival where national and international players could perform and mix freely. This type of event would be new to the bluegrass world and would appeal not only to the musicians themselves, but to bluegrass and other music fans worldwide.
In 1984, while still living in Los Angeles, Berline visited Oklahoma and ran into Joe Hutchinson, now a state representative. Since Hutchinson was then involved in organizing the Powder Horn Park Bluegrass Festival, and had worked on other musical events in the past, he was more than interested in Berlines ideas about an international bluegrass festival in Oklahoma.
But it was over ten years later before the wheels were set in motion. A small group became committed to producing such festival, and in 1996, Hutchinson was able to help in earnest by sponsoring the incorporation of the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival (OIBF), Inc. Formally incorporated as a charitable organization under Oklahoma statutes, OIBF consists of volunteers and willing professionals who have raised funds, solicited charitable donations, and given time and money to make the festival a success.
The organization was formed to promote bluegrass music and the State of Oklahoma, said Doug Hawthorne, chief researcher for the Oklahoma Department of Tourism, and member of the OIBF Advisory Committee. We gathered specialists from different areas of business and industry, and they all pitched in to make the festival a success.
Specialists from event-planning, tourism, economic development, fund-raising, public safety, volunteer management, and of course, the bluegrass music business itself, were involved with the project. And although the OIBF looked at several possible sites for the festival, Guthrie was chosen because of its central location, easy accessibility, and historic charm.
We looked at various sites and it was determined that Guthrie was the best location to hold the festival, Hawthorne said. The Guthrie Chamber of Commerce , city manager, and mayor presented profitable reasons why Guthrie is the perfect place. Hawthorne said that the OIBF anticipates audiences of 15,000 initially, with growth to around 100,000 in the future.
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