The Island Time Music Festival is here -- starting Wednesday Feb. 24 through Saturday the 27th! Each year, the aim of raising 100% of the operating costs for The Little Yellow School House for physically and mentally disabled children on the island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico is helped by performances by some of the biggest stars in Country music.
The women of Runaway June, performing this Saturday, were blessed to have taken part in bringing awareness to the unique charity in the past, and told RADIO.COM's Katie Neal just how special their own trips to the schoolhouse have been for them over the years.
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"One of our favorite parts of this," Naomi Cooke says, "is we actually get to go to the schoolhouse and see where all the money is going and see it grow every single year. I think they started off with 10 or 12 kids, and now they have over 60."
"In Mexico, if you're special needs, you don't get to go to public school," Naomi explained. "So this little school is very, very important... and it's awesome to be able to go there and be able to be like, 'this is what 45 minutes of playing music gets for all these families.'"
"We've all gotten to be there for so many years," Natalie Stovall agreed. "So you get to go back to the school every year and see how the kids have progressed. It's so rewarding to be a part of that. Also, a lot of this is helping with the staff and making sure they're taken care of. You just see the joy... it's all pure joy when you go to The Little Yellow School House. Every single year, it's just the best."
This year, due to the pandemic, the one-of-a-kind fest has gone virtual with live sets scheduled from Vince Gill, Lee Brice, Jake Owen, LOCASH, John Rich, and many more. "I can not believe how many big acts are doing this festival," says Naomi. "It literally started off with only songwriters, and then the word has just spread over the community and people want to be a part of it."
For their set on Saturday the 27th, Jennifer Wayne says "it's gonna feel like we're in Mexico. We're gonna make it fun, and we're gonna sing some of our favorite songs, and just have a good time... try to get people out there donating money. We're just really thankful that we have Zoom and all the technology. Shaun Silva and his team have been awesome to donate their time too... it's gonna be great!"
Tickets for the 4-day, "pay what you can" festival are available now. Events and artist schedules are subject to change. This year's virtual event is produced and directed by award-winning cinematographer Shaun Silva and TackleBox Films who also helmed the Kenny Chesney documentary, The Boys of Fall.
As you enjoy this special show, remember that The Little Yellow School House needs your help. There are two easy ways to donate: Text "Island Time" to 202-858-1233 (message and data rates may apply), or visit islandtimemusicfest.com.