moves to Point Park
to be held in July to ensure good weather
Helen E. McKinney
CARROLLTON, Ky. (July 2003) Clay Cable has been
in a bluegrass band, in one form or another, for the past 30 years.
While growing up in Trimble County he had only a radio to listen to,
but the music he heard on it became engrained in him for a lifetime.
As a member of the Carroll County Bluegrass Music Association,
Cable said he would like to see a bluegrass festival succeed in Carroll
County. His band, the Interstate Bluegrass Band, will be a part of the
returning Back to the Past for the Future Bluegrass Festival
this year in Carrollton. The event is scheduled for July 11-12 and has
been moved from the fairgrounds to Point Park, located at the confluence
of the Ohio and Kentucky rivers.
This event has wonderful potential, said Robin Caldwell,
executive director of the Carrollton-Carroll County Tourism and Convention
Commission. More tourism offices are looking at this type of a
festival because it has been profitable in other areas.
With no other similar event like this in the region, Carrollton has
the potential to draw in large crowds for this event, she said. Tourism
is the third largest industry in the state of Kentucky and the second-largest
employer. And it is a driving factor behind the associations push
to establish an annual bluegrass festival in Carrollton.
Having assisted in organizing several similar events in Trimble County,
Cable brings much needed experience to the association. His band will
play both days, probably opening and closing the show, said Cable. Jam
sessions featuring the essential bluegrass instruments fiddles,
mandolins and banjos will be a part of the entertainment and
were referred to by Cable as a must for a bluegrass festival.
Local organizers have tried to book more regional talent
in an effort to keep ticket prices down. This years list of performers
includes the Moron Brothers, Pick N Time, the Collins Brothers,
Glory Bound, Lost Mill String Band, Runnin Tyme, Gary Strong and
Hardtimes, Blue River Boys, the Interstate Bluegrass Band, Dan Branamans
Tri-County Bluegrass Band, James White and Deer Creek, and the Gallatin
County Bluegrass Club Band.
Although there may not be as many nationally known acts, organizers
are hopeful that a tremendous show will be put on. All of this
years bands are based within 100 to 150 miles of Carrollton,
said organizer and association vice-president Chuck Webster.
People in the area will be delighted and surprised in the talent,
said Cable. This will be a great event for local residents to attend,
as most bluegrass festivals are too far away to go to, he said.
Complaints were raised last year about the festival location. Many felt
the fairgrounds were too large and spread out with the stage being too
far from food vendors and restrooms, said Webster. We feel the
smaller venue and beautiful location on the two rivers will be more
suitable for a bluegrass festival, he said.
Many events like this have a sort of reunion or homecoming air about
them. Throughout the two-day event, five different food vendors will
serve a variety of foods, including pork chops, chicken, cajun food,
hamburgers, hotdogs, tenderloin sandwiches, home cooked type meals,
funnel cakes and more. Bleachers will be provided, but bluegrass fans
are invited to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.
Most of the performing bands will play two sets at different
times. Some will perform once on Friday and once on Saturday, while
other bands will play two sets on the same day. Either way, if you miss
a bands first performance, you still have another chance to catch
them throughout the weekend.
Last years inaugural festival brought in disappointing crowd numbers,
due in part to cold and rainy weather. The October 2002 date was
chosen because it was near the International Bluegrass Festivals
Music Awards in Louisville the following week, said Caldwell.
By moving the date to July 2003 this year, organizers sought to overcome
The group did everything they shouldve done in regard to
advertising. Most people do not realize that these events are put on
completely by volunteers volunteers with jobs and families,
The association is a nonprofit corporation formed to help provide access
to instruments and music lessons to children who otherwise might not
be able to afford them. Members also strive to promote bluegrass music,
which has roots deeply entrenched in Kentucky and southern Indiana.
Our goal is to keep this music alive and pass it on to future
generations, said Webster.
Association member and festival organizer Debbie Allen said she grew
up with bluegrass. Her mothers family played bluegrass music,
so she was naturally influenced by it.
To many performers and listeners alike, the music is symbolic of their
heritage. They can identify with real songs, written by and about, real
people and experiences. One of the associations goals is to instill
this cultural identity into children, giving them an understanding of
who they are and a sense of self-worth. The association would like to
one day create a youth center in Carrollton where music can be taught.
Cable said of bluegrass music, I was raised on that kind of music.
His uncles played various instruments, and he followed suit by learning
to play rhythm guitar. In time he became lead singer of his own band.
Traditional bluegrass music tells a story from beginning to end, said
Cable. It is largely based on Irish ballads migrating peoples brought
with them to America. Acoustic instruments lend a melody that wraps
itself around the words.
In southern Appalachia, folks often gathered to dance and socialize
as bluegrass music played. It was a bond that bound them together, geographically
and emotionally. Their songs were their heritage, which they carried
with them to a new land and passed on to future generations.
Bluegrass is a style made popular by Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass
Boys when they first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in 1939. Flatt and
Scruggs were a major force in introducing bluegrass music to America
through their performances on national television.
Cable said Back to the Past For the Future is a brilliant
idea. The association is actually carrying on a concept developed
during the 1960s when the term bluegrass festival was first
introduced. Carlton Haney, from Reidsville, N.C., is credited with envisioning
and producing the first weeklong bluegrass music festival at Fincastle,
Va., in 1965.
In order to continue such a far-reaching musical tradition, time, nurturing
and local support is needed, said Caldwell. It is a perfect fit
for the community and the area. The variables that are needed to make
it work are there. The only one missing is human help.
For more information, call the tourism office at 1-800-325-4290
or visit: www.carrolltontourism.com.
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