BEAVERCREEK — The amount of time and effort and energy and volunteer work it takes to coordinate and pull off a massive three-day event drawing thousands of people to this area is nothing short of miraculous, according to Tim Sakulich, event director for the Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz.
This year marks Sakulich’s fourth year heading up the festival.
He says the festival’s 17th year this year – like years before – will be nothing short of magical, too.
“Jazz is an American art form that was born in the United States and blossomed all over the world,” Sakulich said. “And there is a strong tradition of jazz here in the Miami Valley.”
As a result, Sakulich said, expectations are high for the March 2 through 4 festival, which is put on by the Beavercreek Music Parent’s Association – a non-profit organization that supports all high school music activities here, including fundraisers and parent support for events like the weekend of jazz.
“I would be remiss if I did not mention how great the music educators are in our community,” Sakulich said. “Matt Frost, the high school band director, he gives his all. It’s a phenomenal collaboration with the music department. We are very lucky to have such an amazing music program.”
Outside of the music educators here, the weekend festival is run entirely by volunteers – parents of graduates, parents of current students and other members of the community who are enthusiastic about music education and jazz.
In total, 100 parents and 150 student volunteers work “selflessly” Thursday night through Saturday night.
“Saturday really is the big day as far as volunteers,” he said. “We host 32 jazz bands. These volunteers are for everything from hospitality, ushers, security, ticket sales; we have people available to answer questions and such.”
Although organizers do not have any formal estimates of the total number of people who converge on the high school, Sakulich said each of these bands have at least a dozen students who are supported by their families and friends.
“We are talking upwards somewhere of 2,000 people easily,” he said. “But beyond that it is hard to say.”
All these visitors are a boon to the local economy, he said.
“A lot of the bands stay,” he said. “They go out to eat, and we have many excellent choices for eating, so we will give them ideas (on where to go).”
The artists are provided hotels in Downtown Dayton.
“Again, this is our 17th year, with the first in 2001,” Sakulich said. “We kicked it off in 2001 and it’s been steadily growing each year and we are very excited about that.”
Sakulich said he oversees and coordinates a team of two dozen volunteers who work almost year-round focusing specific areas, such as publicity, promotion, identifying new talent, scouting, negotiating and coordinating.
“We love it,” he said. “There is something magical about seeing the students and the people attending, seeing the look in their eyes.
“None of us do music as a living – we have day jobs – but we are really enthusiastic about this event. The bulk of the effort we put in physically begins in the fall. During the weekend, we are talking several hundred volunteer hours to cover the gamut of things…”
Fortunately, Sakulich said, they have an effective and evolving blueprint they use each year.
“It is hard work like any complicated event,” he said. “For the most part we have a great model we follow to organize the event that’s worked over the years.”
Because students graduate each year, and some volunteers move on, they are always looking for new parents of freshmen to join their team.
“It’s almost the case that for multiple years they stay because they do it for fun,” he said. “I’ve had two students… It’s a lot of fun doing this. Truly.”
Sakulich said social media “goes crazy – everyone sharing what they’re experiencing.”
Brian Evans is a freelance writer for Greene County News.