Story courtesy of the Verde Independent, published October 5, 2013

Jerome will host musicians and artists at the third annual Gold King Mine Americana festival Saturday, Oct. 12.

Beginning at 11 a.m., attendees can enjoy more than a dozen Americana musicians, food from onsite vendors and a 50/50 raffle. Admission for adults is $10, and half price for children 12 or under.

Some of the proceeds will go toward Greyhounds of the Verde Valley, a nonprofit organization that works to pair the retired racing dogs with forever owners.

Lora “Ralo” Heiniemi ran the festival for its first two years and almost didn’t organize it for a third after it was almost entirely rained out in 2012.

Producing festivals since 1989, Heinieme said she had never been involved in an Americana theme.

“Don Robertson, who owns the Gold King Mine, he was the inspiration,” she said.

She used to host open mics at the Spirit Room in Jerome, where Robertson told her his favorite kinds of music were bluegrass, old country and old rock ‘n’ roll.

“I wanted to approach him about having a festival at Gold King Mine,” she said. “When first putting together the Americana music festival, I decided to go after acts that play the kind of music Don likes.”

This year’s festival will take place in October rather than August, after weather practically shut down the 2012 event.

“We didn’t make any money last year because we had a huge monsoon,” she said. “The only monies we were able to donate were the monies made off of the raffle.”

Heinieme was discouraged by the effort and small return last year, so Jerome resident Emily McClellan jumped in to help put on the festival for its third year.

“I wanted to make sure it happened,” McClellan said. “I was there the first year and loved it. I’ve always kind of had a dream of what I’d do if I had my own festival.”

McClellan is a Fit Kids instructor at Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary. She said she saw a lot of potential for the Gold King Mine festival.

“There’s always this spontaneous beauty that comes from a bunch of people getting together and enjoying music and the land around us,” she said.

People can bring coolers with food and drinks, set up canopies, tents or park their RV’s and camp out to listen to music and enjoy the atmosphere. Heiniemi said there will be a kids’ area that offers activities like face painting.

“It’s something really cheap for a mom or a family to go do with young children,” she said. “We want it to be inexpensive and we would like it to always be inexpensive.”

Local barbecue will be sold as well, and Far Out Foods in Snowflake is selling vegetarian foods and sweets like cookies and ice cream. Artists who make jewelry, leather goods and original works of art will be selling their pieces.

“We’re celebrating American culture with Americana music,” she said.