WellsFest, the annual music festival of Wells United Methodist Church, has been a long-time staple of the Jackson fall event scene. For over 40 years, the generosity of musicians donating their time and talent has made the event possible. Now, a group has come together to give back to local musicians and create more programming to keep the spirit of WellsFest alive all year long through the WellsFest CARES Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi.
“Musicians are great at providing entertainment and giving us a lot of things to be joyful about,” said Keith Ferguson, founder and fund holder for the WellsFest CARES Fund. “Sometimes they’re not really equipped with a safety net and will run into trouble spots… we want to be there for those musicians who hit those times. It may be an instrument that needs repair. It may be a car that needs repair. It may be dental – could be utilities. It could be funeral expenses. And so we want to be there for those musicians that have a little extra need and just need some extra helping hand there.”
With several benefit concerts under their belt, the group is hosting a tribute concert on February 4 at 4 p.m. in memory of their first grant recipient, Steve Chester.
“Steve is another one of those outstanding musicians that has given back so much to this community. Steve has played with a number of bands. He played every single WellsFest, except the last one when he was in bad health, but he had played every WellsFest we’ve ever had,” said Ferguson. “We lost Steve last year and we are just want to celebrate his life and remember him. And we’re also helping his family to pay off some end-of-life expenses, about $10,000 worth of hospice care and other expenses. And we’re working with others to try to pay this off and so far we’re about over halfway there. And so it’ll be not only a time to celebrate Steve, but it’ll be a time for people to reach out and help us in a tangible way.”
Hear more about the fund and the upcoming tribute concert on Visit Jackson’s Soul Sessions podcast, found here.
Click here to support the WellsFest CARES Fund at CFM. The group has also created the WellsFest CARES Endowment Fund to support musicians long-term. Donations of $1,000 or more to the WellsFest CARES Endowment Fund qualify for the Endow Mississippi state tax credit.