For an estimated 30,000 country music fans, the days circled on this summer’s calendar are the dates of the annual Night in the Country music festival in Yerington. What started 15 years ago as a small concert series supporting the Boys & Girls Club of Mason Valley has grown to staggering proportions, but has retained its roots as a hometown charity program.
“(Night in the Country) is our largest single contributor to our funds,” said Travis Crowder, festival manager for Night in the Country and chief professional officer at the Boys & Girls Club of Mason Valley. “NITC equates to about 20 percent of our revenue for BGC, which is a big piece considering it's dollars that we can put wherever we need to – they're not restricted funds. Currently with us having seven sites and serving a multitude of kids, it equates to about $300,000 a year.”
The Boys & Girls Club currently boasts 1,700 members and has enjoyed enormous growth since the inaugural Night in the Country festival, having just opened a seventh site in Hawthorne, Nevada, this year. In its mission to serve the youth of Mason Valley and the surrounding areas, the Boys & Girls Club counts on funds raised during the three-day festival – which draws 10,000 people per day to a town that normally houses around 3,000 residents.
“We're a small community out here, you can imagine it’s a little tricky when, basically a lot of times we just exchange dollars and resources with each other's events,” Crowder said. “Night in the Country provides an opportunity for a lot of outside resources and dollars to come into the community that we normally do not see.”
Night in the Country has featured some of the biggest names in country music over the years. Coupled with on-site camping in quiet or “party zone” areas, mechanical bull riding and exclusive perks for upgraded tickets, it has grown into a full-on festival experience. All this growth, however, means a lot of organization.
“When it was smaller, it was quite controllable amongst our local resources,” Crowder said. “Now that the event has grown the way that it has, it requires us to do a great deal of work with outside entities and subcontractors that are professionals in the industry – but (they) don't come cheap.”
Give and Get
The bulk of the festival’s organizational efforts are handled by its legion of volunteers in the months before and after the event. Volunteers can receive up to two days of festival attendance for free depending on their responsibilities, but in keeping with Night in the Country’s sprit of service, they also receive an hourly “wage,” which is donated to a charity of their choice on behalf of the festival as part of the Give and Get program.
“Last year alone we did just over 40 charities and local nonprofits, and gave just over $50,000 back to the community,” Crowder said. “At a minimum, we try to have at least 500 volunteers and we're probably closer to 400. It's one that we can make do with, but we are definitely looking for – and need – more.”
Night in the Country works hard to bring an authentic experience to thousands of country music lovers every year, and attendees can party on knowing that their tickets fees directly benefit the local community.