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A hootenanny of a good time

Country music jamboree draws a big crowd

November 8, 2010
By Kurt Hauglie, DMG Writer

HOUGHTON - The E.B. Holman Country Music Jamboree started in the school gymnasium, but now, 18 years later, it takes the auditorium in the Michigan Technological University Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts to hold everybody who wants to see the show.

Saturday, the theatre was nearly filled to see the band Rolling Thunder and many local musicians perform traditional and classic country music.

Paul Saaranen, Holman principal and Stanton Township Public Schools superintendent, said the jamboree is a fundraising event for the school's Parent Teacher Organization, and over the years it's gotten more popular and it's had to move to several increasingly larger venues.

Article Photos

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
The band Rolling Thunder performs Saturday during the E.B. Holman Country Music Jamboree at the Michigan Technological University Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

"It's by far the largest PTO fundraiser," he said. "It's a first priority."

Last year, Saaranen said the net proceeds for the PTO from the event was about $4,000. Some of the proceeds are used by teachers for classroom supplies, and for events at the school.

"It sponsors a local music program for the third year," he said. "It provides the teachers with a wishlist, which does go directly to the kids."

Although the audience for the concert is made up of many age groups, Saaranen said most are older people who particularly enjoy the more traditional type of country music.

"We do see a lot of return customers," he said.

One of those return customers was Bill Hyrkas of Traprock Valley, who said the music keeps bringing him back.

"I come to every one," he said. "I like old country music."

Dan Johnson of Calumet said he knows many of the performers in the concert, and he's been to almost as many as Hyrkas.

"We missed one," he said.

Saaranen said the musicians, who come from much of the Copper Country, get a travel stipend, so they're basically donating their performances.

"It's a lot of time to put this on," he said. "I think it's awesome."

Members of the PTO will start planning for next year's jamboree next spring or early summer, Saaranen said.

Also during the concert, there was a 50/50 raffle and the district's cookbook was for sale for $13. The cookbook can be purchased at any time by calling the school at


Kurt Hauglie can be reached at



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