RALSTON - The final Jess Fest will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday on Langdon Road (just off of Route 14), at the Sammons' residence, one mile north of Ralston. The festival was first organized five years ago in memory of Jesse Michael Sammons, who overcame a drug addiction and graduated from the Lycoming County Drug Court program in February 2003, only to be tragically killed in a car accident the following August.
When Jesse passed away, his mother, Robin Sammons, thought the best way to keep his memory alive and to raise awareness about drug addiction was to hold a music festival.
"We do [Jess Fest] because Jess loved music so much," Sammons said. "It was a good way to honor him and raise money for the scholarship."
Russ Baskin is seen with a guitar he made that will be raffled off at Jess Fest, set for noon to 6 p.m. Saturday on Langdon Road, Ralston.
The scholarship is the Jesse Michael Sammons Memorial Scholarship fund, which was set up to benefit a graduate of the Lycoming Country Drug Court program.
Last year, Sammons raised more than $2,000 through Jess Fest and this year, she wants to top that.
"We're hoping for a great turn out this year, so it can be our biggest contribution to the scholarship," she said.
With the Sammons' property being out in the country, next to a creek, the atmosphere is relaxed and the event is "kind of like a big picnic," Sammons said. "Everyone sits in lawn chairs and picnic tables ... we have a really good time."
This setting is perfect for Joel Dobbins, a Reading-based musician who will perform at the festival and prefers a "laid-back" atmosphere at his shows.
"Most of the time I just want people to have fun, hear good music and interact in some way," Dobbins said. "That's what I hope."
The singer-songwriter plays a few festivals every summer and decided to make Jess Fest one of them this year.
"A friend I went to elementary school with in Maine [John Rolse] - his girlfriend knew Jess." Dobbins said. "So, he asked me to play this year."
The other performers are Jess Fest veterans Marlee Rose, along with Crossfyre, Decade Waiting and Midnight Sun.
Each year for the event, a handmade guitar is raffled off. The guitars are made by Russ Baskin who "just showed up the first year and gave us a guitar," Sammons said.
"For the first year, I had already built the guitar and then I went up and found out what [the festival] was for. It was for a good cause," Baskin said. "I gave it to them and I've done one each year since then."
Since Baskin isn't a guitar player himself, he takes the guitars to K&S Music to have musicians try them out.
"The old Fender didn't play [guitar] either," Baskin said. "He depended on players to tell him what was good and what isn't good."
Sammons hopes that this last Jess Fest will "help people understand that people with addictions can get clean and get their life back on track."
She said that the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission and the Lycoming County Drug Court "give a person a chance to deal with life's stress. They deal with real-life problems and learn how to cope with it in a healthy way. Not in jail."
The handmade guitar will be raffled at 4 p.m. the day of the event. Sunset Ice Cream will be served, as well as hot sausage, hot dogs and french fries. All proceeds will go to The Jesse Michael Sammons Memorial Scholarship.