Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library at Industrial Strength Bluegrass 2022

Joe Mullins reads to children at the Industrial Strength Bluegrass festival – photo © Bill Warren

Each November at the Industrial Strength Bluegrass festival the Mullins family and the Radio Ramblers host a charity fundraiser breakfast. This year’s was one “for the books.”

The chosen charity was Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Ohio. Ohio first lady Fran DeWine spearheads the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. Every county in Ohio participates. Nearly 400,000 youngsters receive books in the state, making it the largest participant in the program.

The Imagination Library is a worldwide effort to get books into the hands of youngsters – new-born to five year olds. Each child is sent a personalized book each month.

Joe Mullins, Mrs. DeWine, and the director of the Greene County Public Library, Karl Colon, spoke about the importance of reading to young children and the impact it has on their learning abilities. Mrs. DeWine said they are now getting volunteers at some hospitals to help parents get their newborns signed up for the program.

Members of the Radio Ramblers served breakfast patrons and solicited tips for the program. Saturday afternoon Joe announced that $2,500 was raised at the breakfast! That will pay for a lot of books for a lot of children.

The rest of the story is about the reading corner that went on through the whole weekend. A corner of the vendor area was set aside for reading books to children. Mullins family members, artists, and radio DJs all took turns reading. They included Maddie Denton of the Dan Tyminski Band, MC Blake Williams, Sarah Mullins, Jason Barie of the Radio Ramblers, Susan Sisk, Kristin Scott Benson of the Grascals, Jessica McIntosh of the Radio Ramblers, WOBL’s Michelle Lee and Marsha Channell, Daniel and Santana Mullins, Chris Jones of the Night Drivers, Kody and Mary Rachel Norris, and Joe Mullins. Each reader expressed their enjoyment at being included and interacting with the kids. Kristin said the it was the highlight of the festival for her.

Some of the older children also stepped in and read to the younger ones.

Mrs. DeWine and Dolly also share a passion for cooking. The two, as part of the Ohio program, have put out a small cookbook of some of each one’s favorite recipes. I think Dolly’s Stone soup and Fran’s Favorite Rolls would make a great lunch!

Let’s all join in to spread this wonderful program!