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Award-winning gospel and country performer Elaine Peacock will be hosting the 13th annual Heritage Fest  July 15 at Elk Point.

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ELK POINT, SD | Elaine Peacock has a dream of seeing the Elk Point-Jefferson Middle School gymnasium filled with both music and people.

The country and gospel singer will be hosting the 13th annual Heritage Music Fest from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. July 15 at the school located at 402 S. Douglas St. in Elk Point.

"I hope we have a packed house," Peacock said. "This year, the festival may have its largest lineup of performers ever."

"Just be sure to bring your own lawn chair," she added. "It's going to be a big show."

A fundraiser benefiting a high school scholarship program and a youth identification program started by Elk Point's Masonic Lodge 3, the Heritage Festival annually attracts entertainers as far away as Nashville to perform largely acoustic sets. 

"(Nashville-based singer-songwriter) Terry S. Smith has worked with everyone from Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff and the Oak Ridge Boys," Peacock said. "Terry's been with Heritage Fest since the beginning and we're blessed to have him back every year."

Other returning Heritage Fest artists will include Underwood, Iowa-based fiddlers Rick and Harriette Andersen; Lynchburg, Mo.-based country duo Don Joy and Melanie Lynn; and, even, Elk Point Mayor Isabel Trobaugh, a pianist who frequently accompanies Peacock when she performs at area music festivals, churches and nursing homes.

While many of the musicians perform a very traditional type of country music, Peacock said the festival also includes young performers like Ty'Keyeh Sterling, a 15-year-old gospel singer from Wakefield, Neb., as well as Olivia Johnson, 14, of McCool Junction, Neb.

'Olivia also happens to be my niece," Peacock said. "You can see how important music has been to my family." 

In addition, a bake sale, concession stands, a craft show, an all-day jam session and an $8 roast beef dinner -- cooked and served by Masonic Lodge members -- will be a part of the festivities.

"Heritage Fest truly is an event that is meant to be enjoyed by people of all ages," Peacock said. "After all, it is built around our Masonic Lodge's scholarship program that will help an eligible Elk Point-Jefferson student as well an eligible Dakota Valley student pay for college."

Reflecting on the previous Heritage Fests while planning for this year's event, Peacock -- an award-winning recording artist who has released eight CDs -- still considered it a blessing whenever she performs. 

"It's been my lifelong dream to start a music career and it's been enriching to help others who have the gift of music," she said. "Hosting Heritage Fest allows me to give back to a community that's been very generous to me."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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