Author: Brandli, Darby

Monthly Message from our President, Darby Brandli

My favorite festival of the year is getting closer. The Fatherís Day Festival in Grass Valley was where it all began for our family in the mid 80ís. I have close friends who attended from the beginning but we didnít get there until the 9th or 10th and were immediately hooked. My life would be very different if we hadnít attended. I discovered the festival some- how or somewhere and thought it would be a great family vaca- tion opportunity. We camped on the American River in Coloma, visited the old homeplace of my grandparents in Georgetown, and ended the week by attending a bluegrass festival as a surprise for my husband and our two small children next to Nevada City where we had spent our first night as a married couple. It somehow seemed perfect to load all our camping equipment in our small sedan and head out for a week. The fact that we are still camping in the same spot with some of that same camping equipment a quarter century later (and with a son-in-law and grandchild in tow) is just amazing to me. There is no way a single sedan could carry all the gear we now bring. Our small family camp has grown to a large camp of good friends with their families and we are prepared for rain and cold.

In those early years we used to leave home the weekend before the festival and camp in Nevada County. We swam in all the lakes and spots on the Yuba River. We traveled the backroads and visited all the tiny settlements and my children learned all about Cali- fornia Gold Rush history. We ar- rived on Wednesday or Thursday morning at the Nevada County Fairgrounds and set up camp. Those were the old days when the festival was half the size it is now and had not yet expanded into the main fairgrounds. The tent
camping area was full of children and the weather was hotter. We drove to the Yuba every day to wash the red dirt off our children during the heat of the afternoon. Now we drive up to the Fair- grounds the weekend before in order to set up for Music Camp and the Festival. The Festival is not the leisurely event it once was for us. We somehow got hooked hard on the music and the CBA and the older we get the harder we work. In fact now we work the entire year planning the event. Bruno still gets to the Yuba River but I havenít been able to get away for a couple of years. I worked to get bicycles approved for the festival so I didnít have to walk so much: the festival area has doubled in size.

Our camp now has grand- children and we are again packing the Frisbees and whiffle balls and boxes of toys. We have another generation of young people playing instruments and staying up all night. A few of the last generation of young musicians who camped with us are professional musicians and some are beginning their own families. We expect to see them return to the festival fold in future years. The campers who camp with us have been through many years together and although some only see each other at festivals, the bonds run deep. One of my projects this year has been to ex- pand the ďofficialĒ Childrenís Pro- gram at the Festival. The goal was for the festival to be more family friendly and to have more activities for more hours and be closer to the stage area.

When our children were young the Childrenís Activi- ties were held far from the stage and the time was very limited. Kathleen Rushing has taken on the Childrenís Program this year during the festival as well as running FunGrass during Music Camp. There will be more crafts, glitter, tie dye and music for children. There will be a full schedule of activities and those activities will be easier to access and families will not have to wander far from the stage in or- der to participate. We invite you to bring your small children and grandchildren to Fatherís Day. Attendance is free for children under 16 years old. The Yuba River is still there for an after- noon dip!

Posted:  4/29/2011

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email