AMHERST – A humble Dick Bristol thanked the town “a million times” Wednesday after Mayor David Kogon and Deputy Mayor Sheila Christie presented the driving force behind Dick’s Jamboree with a plaque honoring him for providing many years of entertainment to the community and for his charitable acts.
“It’s an honour to receive this recognition. I can’t say thank you enough,” Bristol said to the two town leaders, as Leroy and the Boys struck up a tune on what was Bristol’s last night at the helm of the jamboree.
“It’s just a small token,” Kogon responded. “You have given so much to the community, not only by providing years of entertainment, but for all the charitable works that have resulted from Dick’s Jamboree.
“You are a big part of this community. You are one of the reasons Amherst is a great place to live, work and play.”
Bristol started Dick’s Jamboree almost a decade ago. Each Wednesday night since its inception, the jamboree has played to packed houses at Trinity-St. Stephen’s United Church. Those attending pay a small entrance fee of $3.
All the money, after expenses, went to many different charitable organizations in the area, such as the Kidney Foundation, the Bridge Workshop and the Cumberland Health Care Foundation.
One of the latest to receive funding was a small park just across the road from the church, which was given $1,300 to install benches, including ones that honored the late Steve Ridgeway and Bob Cormier, two musicians who were regular participants in the jamboree.
Sharon Gould, of the Kidney Foundation, said the money from the jamboree was greatly appreciated by the foundation, which is always attempting to raise money to assist those afflicted with kidney disease.
As Bristol listened to the music, he reflected on the jamboree.
“I love doing it,” he said. “But, I’m 74. It was just time to retire. If I was younger I would have kept doing it, but it’s time. I just want to let everyone know I’m not stepping away because of ill health. I’m fine. It’s just time.”
Bristol said he couldn’t have put on the weekly performances without the aid of his wife, Carol, and his sister Betty Bristol. “They were invaluable,” he said.
While it may have been Bristol’s last night at the helm of the jamboree, it may not be the last night for the event.
Roy Pettigrew says he hopes to keep the jamboree going because he’d like to see the entertainment and charitable acts continue.
“The jamboree is a great event for the community,” he said, adding he has an agreement for the church for at least one more jamboree “and then we’ll see if we can go from there.”