Author: Campbell, Bruce

Kings River Festival Remembered

Just got back from the Kings River Bluegrass Festival, and it raised a pretty important question in my mind: “Why the heck have I not been to this festival before this year?”

Well, it is a long drive. But I’d been to the 48 hour jam before and that’s an hour or so further for me. It was a little hot, true, but I can remember years when the GOF was hotter. I really have no excuses, and I’m not going to dwell on the past. Bottom line, it’s a wonderful festival in an extremely charming location, and I had a great time!

The Kings River Bluegrass Festival is a CBA event, but that only goes back a few years. For some time, it was called the Hobb’s Grove Bluegrass Festival, and a local bluegrass organization, the Kings River Bluegrass Association put it on. I believe the principals behind the festival are KRBA “veterans”, and they do a fantastic job.

Sanger is a typical Central Valley town – seemingly in the middle of nowhere, which makes it look smaller thanit is. But 24,000 people live there, and they have a nice little downtown, a cool water tower, and they have The Grove.

It used to be Hobb’s Grove, and its claim to fame, aside from KRBA’s festival was its annual haunted house. But in 2010, “irreconcilable differences” among the shareholders of “Hobb’s Grove, Inc”, forced the name into the shadows of history. One can only imagine the rancorous backroom acrimony that led to this dissolution, and frankly, it’s Sanger’s secret, as far as I’m concerned.

But The Grove remains, and what a nice spot it is: several acres of grassy flat land with plenty of trees, plus a common area with several buildings, paved areas, fire pits and a cute little grassy area. It fairly oozes charm, and the overall effect is a very relaxed festival, with careful attention to the details that make for a quality experience for the festival goer. The stage is nice, the sound is impeccable (Paul Knight – need I say more!), and the band selection presents a nice variety of quality local acts and out of town artists.

Eventually, the shows are over and the jamming begins. The grounds are small enough that you can carry an instrument to every possible jamming spot, but large enough so you can jam without suffering from overhearing the next nearest jam. I wandered around a bit, heard some great picking and singing, witnessed some songwriting, and ended up near my own camp, and jammed for so long it was basically broken up by some rooster crowing. As should be the case with any good festival, I played with some old friends, and met some new ones.

Thanks to everyone that deigned to jam with me, thanks to my bandmates for two good shows, thank you CBA, for helping this festival to continue, and thanks to all the volunteers who made this festival so smooth and enjoyable! Long live Hobb’s Grove, er, Kings River Festival!

Posted:  10/3/2012

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