Bluegrass music lovers take note. The 10th Annual Sally Gap Bluegrass Festival is almost upon us. The festival begins on Wednesday, May 31 and runs through Saturday, June 3.
“I am glad it has gone 10 years,” said Sarah Williams, one of the festival organizers. “We are pulling a lot of people from out of state. We had two different people from Canada last year. Nova Scotia was the furthest traveled. We also had people from Utah, Arkansas and Arizona. We pulled a lot of people from out of state.”
This year, a Holland couple has already purchased tickets to the festival, which is their first stop on their trip to America, Williams added.
For the second straight year, the festival is featuring four nights of entertainment.
“Last year we added gospel day on Wednesday. It is a four-day event now. This year we have Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. He is a national headliner, who is closing out our gospel day now,” Williams noted.
Lawson is slated to perform from 8:30 – 10 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, and Williams is hoping that is late enough so that people going to church on Wednesday night can still make the performance.
While admission was free last year for the gospel night, this year there will be a $25 charge for the Wednesday, May 31 performance.
Bluegrass music will be featured the remaining three days of the festival next Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Bobby Hamlin & Lawless will headline the Thursday, June 1 show. Lonesome River Band will headline the Friday, June 2 show and Sideline will headline the Saturday, June 3 show.
Southern Sun will serve as the host band for the festival. Other acts slated to perform include: Virgil Bowlin & Peerless Mountain, Kenny Stinson, Wilderness Road, Tidal Wave Road, Whitley County Colonel Strings and Hwy. 204 among others.
For the fourth year in a row, the festival will take place at 80 Savoy Beatty Road in Williamsburg on a portion of Whitley County Fiscal Court’s 100-acre industrial site.
Williams noted that one change this year is that Virgil Bowling is going to host a slow jam for beginners during the festival.
Benefits good cause
There is a $25 admission charge each day for the festival, or $75 admission charge for a “weekend pass” that includes all four days admission.
Employees at Baptist Health Corbin can show their badge at the gate for a discount on admission.
Children ages 12 and under get in free with a paying adult. Children ages 13 – 17 get in for $10 each with a paying adult.
There is free rough camping with a “weekend pass.” Williams noted that the number of rough camping spots have actually doubled compared to what they used to be.
Camping sites with electric for June 1-3 are $50, and $10 for each additional day.
Proceeds from the festival go to benefit the American Traditional Music Project.
“The American Traditional Music Project has been a non-profit program for 15 years. In the past, they have put on school programs to educate children about bluegrass music,” Williams noted.
“They have also done teachers workshops at the Cumberlands where teachers can get continuing education credits and learn how to introduce Bluegrass into their classrooms.”
This year’s festival will once again feature various workshops, including a workshop for children to introduce them to the origin of various instruments. Children taking part in the workshop will get to build their own musical instrument.
The American Traditional Music Project hopes to start offering free music lessons for children, whose families can’t afford lessons, and for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who are undergoing music therapy.
“It hasn’t actually kicked off yet, but that is what we are working towards,” Williams added about the free music lessons.
About 1,000 people attended last year’s festival and Williams is expecting about the same number of people this year.
Williams noted that organizers travel around to other bluegrass festivals each year to promote the Sally Gap festival.
In prior years, no one had heard of the Sally Gap festival before but she said that is no longer the case.
Entertainment for the Wednesday, May 31 show will start at 3:30 p.m.
Entertainment for the Thursday, June 1 show will go from 5 – 11 p.m. Entertainment for the Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3 shows will run from 12:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
For more information, log onto the festival’s website at www.sallygapbgfestival.com or onto their Facebook page Sally Gap.