Because December 31st only happens once a year, it’s the largest event in the county. Families who have been hard at work, managing acts, booking dates, and negotiating concession fees for tours like Eddie Money, Natalie Merchant and , don’t have a lot of time to socialize. So when the winter event arrives, they like to take the opportunity to catch up with their neighbors, renew old acquaintances and share some gossip. All the while the children search the fields for scattered tour dates.

Some of the families go back five, maybe six generations. The craft of tour management is passed from father to son, from mother to daughter. These are proud, righteous folks. They work hard bringing Bob Dylan, Diana Krall and Luther Vandross to the concert stage, and they believe in tradition.

“Lottery in December, sold-out shows in January,” goes the old saying. But some of the younger booking agents and artist managers don’t like adhering to the old ways. “Superstition,” they claim. “It takes muscle, sweat and cell phones to route Jonatha Brooke, Kittie and Rodney Crowell. Not some old wives tale.”

No matter. The hat is passed and every person that’s eligible – from 12 years old and up – reaches in and grabs a slip of paper. Finally, after everyone has had their turn, the top promoter reaches into the barrel and pulls out a number. “97,” he announces to the crowd.

There’s always a moment of silence as each person looks at his or her own slip of paper, followed by a sigh of relief when each one realizes it does not contain the number announced just moments ago. Relief for all but the one who drew “97.” That person finally steps forward. This year it’s a girl, only thirteen.

“She’s just a child,” pleads her mother. “Take me, instead.”

But tradition guides the folk, and a circle forms around the girl. The adults pick up the dates the children have spent the morning gathering. The promoter nods.

The crowd pelts the girl with dates for GWAR and Slipknot. The New Year’s Eve date for Phil Lesh & Friends hits her square in the forehead. D.R.I. and Tower Of Power smack her in the face. She falls down on hands and knees as dates for Craig David and Smash Mouth rain down upon her until she finally collapses from under the sheer weight of the The Breeders tour.

“Lottery in December, sold-out shows in January,” goes the tradition. “It was good enough for our forefathers,” say the elders. “It’s good enough for us.”

And the families go back to their farms to prepare for another successful concert year.