Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Bluegrass Festival is Almost Upon Us

Today was our last promotional committee meeting before the big event this coming weekend. It looks like we are ready to welcome bluegrass fans to our town for our third bluegrass festival. I say we, because the primary promoter of the event is the Union County Historical Society of which I am vice-president this year. Our president, Sam Ensley, is the creator of the festival and the driving force behind it. We are assisted by the Downtown Development Authority, the City of Blairsville, and SEBA, the Southeastern Bluegrass Association.

By Friday afternoon, some twenty-one craft vendors will begin setting up their wares for sale, tents will be erected at City Hall, the restored Mock House, and the Old Courthouse on the Square. Musicians and fans will be arriving in town, finding their lodging, and seeking a place to eat. Sam and I will be setting up and testing the sound system for the United Community Bank Main Stage in the second floor courtroom of the old courthouse, as we revive a custom repeated time and again in old courthouses like ours. Since the old courthouses had large auditoriums they were often used for gospel singing's, bluegrass, country and other musical shows.

At 7 p.m. the first group will take center stage and the courthouse will vibrate with the sounds of mandolin, fiddle, guitar, "dog house" bass, and banjo as some of the finest bluegrass musicians in W. North Carolina, north and central Georgia, and East Tennessee gather to enjoy their passion.

On Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. two outdoor stages in downtown Blairsville will present concerts from among the 25 bands that will appear. The front porch of the City Hall, formerly the old County Jail, will be the site of the Ken Ensley Music Company Stage, while the Mock House Cultural Center will host the Appalachian Community Bank Stage. The main UCB stage at the old Courthouse will be alive with music until 11 p.m.

It is rare for a small town historical society to host such an event, especially, only two weeks after its hugely popular Mountain Heritage Days. However, we have a very active society, that is willing to take on these tasks. The Heritage Days Festival was solely a product of the members of the Society. The Bluegrass Festival is a joint activity of three different groups with the Society being the driving force.

We will all be exhausted when this is over late Saturday night, but it will have been a great experience. Our town is a changing community with many new arrivals who haven't lived in a small town and seen what the energy of a small community can accomplish. Our downtown merchants will enjoy the business during these difficult times, and we will simply enjoy working together to put on a good show for the spectators and musicians who take part.

1 comment:

Diane J Standiford said...

I often miss that small town feeling. Would love to hear that bluegrass music. When I was a kid, my cousin used to play his banjo, or mandolin and I would pick up the guitar or spoons, sit on the porch at night during hot Indiana summers, the breeze egging us on.