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Vacaville Jazzes Up Weekend

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When it comes to pulling off the ninth annual Vacaville Jazz Fest, bigger was not necessarily better, as event founder Keith Stout quickly realized.

The free event that runs today through Sunday relies heavily on sponsors, and Stout found out the big boys sometimes have trouble remembering to call him back.

“We bring much-needed sales traffic to our jazz festival, but big corporations seem to be least interested in community support," Stout said.

“The one line I hear often from the chains is, 'I'll give you the phone number to the corporate office on the East Coast.' Then you call and nobody seems interested."

Fortunately, said Stout, the small business owners and others with a vested interest locally came through. And what started as a little festival attracting about 300 fans has grown to a weekend event that now brings in 5,000 visitors to hear 40 bands and vocal groups.

As fund-raising chairman, Mike Cherry has the unenviable task of gathering sponsors - “not a very fun job when the economy is so shaky," he said.

“Actually, the response has been generous for the most part," Cherry said, and it's worth the trouble.

“The venues are excellent, and there's the diversity of crowds enjoying America's music," Cherry said. “And it's a chance for the musicians to get together and catch up. And it's free."

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