Following Burlington’s successful Centennial Celebration in August 1935, the Chamber of Commerce discussed making Fourth of July celebrations and a water carnival annual events. For 1936, the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus made plans for a three-day celebration for July 3, 4, and 5. From a large number of names suggested for the celebration, the general committee selected “July Jamboree”.
The 1936 July Jamboree, which was centered in Echo Park, included a huge street parade and a drawing for a new automobile. So, the first Jamboree was in 1936. The “last” year for the Jamboree on record was in 1985.
In 1987, the weekend after Mother’s Day, Chocolate City Festivals debuted. It was later re-named ‘ChocolateFest in 1999, moved to Memorial Day weekend in 2005, and ran through 2019.
The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic put the brakes on everything in 2020; causing ChocolateFest to cancel after a 33-year run.
Following that challenging year in 2020, other factors besides Covid-19 faced ChocolateFest as 2021 approached. It included the city rebranding itself, losing key volunteers and vendors, and ongoing expenses to name just a few.
Not wanting to “let Covid-19 win”; and knowing people wanted to get back to living, a few diehard volunteers from ChocolateFest decided the Burlington community needed something to begin feeling normal again. With very limited financial resources, as well as the volunteer help to run a festival, it was decided to provide a simple carnival with games and food. Looking back in history, it was decided to revive the name: The Burlington Jamboree.
On April 6, 2021, the City of Burlington Common Council gave approval for The Burlington Jamboree to be held along with a beer tent and one evening of live music. It would be held the same weekend of the previous ‘ChocolateFest’ – over Memorial Day weekend. This gave the new committee just 7 weeks to get all their ducks in a row!
The 2021 Burlington Jamboree opened on Friday May 28th with cool, damp weather, but improved with warmer and sunny skies as the weekend continued. Attendees appreciated the free admission and the ability to get out and socialize with their family and friends.
Considering the relatively short time-frame to produce an event, and the fact we were still coming out of a ‘stay-at-home’ pandemic; the revised Burlington Jamboree was a modest success.
In 2022, the Jamboree expanded on the entertainment, with a variety of live music every day. Family entertainment also included Pig, Goat, and Duck Races; and Circus Shane Hansen’s acrobatic acts. Sunday morning featured a church service and made-to-order omelet breakfast.
“The Burlington Jamboree exists to serve as a conduit for civic groups, charities, and non-profit 501(c)(3) entities, to join forces on a large playing field with the ability to generate revenue that will benefit their particular purpose or cause.”
Every person that serves on the Jamboree Committee is a true volunteer. There is no paid staff. When it comes to workers, such as parking vehicles, or trash removal, the Jamboree enters into an agreement with non-profit and civic groups. The non-profit groups provides the manpower and raises their own revenue. Many of these groups depend on the Jamboree as a key revenue source when establishing their budget.
“Dedication” – is one of the words which describes the people who serve on the Jamboree Committee, and their dedication doesn’t have an off-season. They know that the time, effort, and the dedication will pay off. When confronted with a challenge, they search for a solution rather than an escape.
It is also a team effort. Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.