Author: Campbell, Bruce

Rookies of the Year

In case you didnít know, thereís a bit of a bluegrass festival coming up. In less than a month, hordes of bluegrass faithful will descend upon the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley for the 36th edition of the CBAís Fatherís Day Festival. Iím getting pretty excited about it, to tell the truth.

There are lots of reasons for me to be excited. I expect to have several friends and family members attend this festival for the first time this year. I have friends who play bluegrass who have yet to make this particular pilgrimage, and it will be an honor to see the festival through the new eyes of a rookie.

For some of them, it wonít be their first festival per se, just their first time at this festival. But this is The Big One, and I think it will be apparent shortly after they pass through the gates. The sheer size is impressive. It took me several years to remember the layout (although I have a seriously impaired sense of direction). People would say, ďYou oughta stop by my camp! Weíre right by the K lot, past the permanent bathrooms.Ē. I would nod sagely, secretly shamed by the fact that I would never, ever find that camp.

Iím a little better now, and I canít wait to help my confused rookie friends find their way around.

And some of the first-timers will have never been to a bluegrass festival, and they will be amazed, I think. To what can they compare the scene at Fatherís Day? Itís not like a rock festival, where thereís just the audience, the bands and some stoners in the parking lot. Itís not really like a camping trip Ė the campers are too close together, cheek by jowl, and thereís no 10 oíclock quiet curfew. And of course, thereís the stage.

Did I say stage? I meant stages! Once my FDF virgins check out the Big Stage, nestled peacefully in the dappled sunlight Ďneath the stately bucolic pines, theyíll be astounded and delighted to find another stage behind Vernís Place, and discover that venue's particular charms (Can you say "Sierra Nevada"?). And, if they decide to stroll around and see the luthierís pavilion, past the proud purveyors of clever crafts and crafty cuisine, they will discover, nestled in yet another shady grove, the Pioneer Stage!

The truth is, the Fatherís Day Festival is a Bluegrass Disneyland. Thereís never a shortage of visual and aural stimulation. If you have been to so many Fatherís Day Festivals that your capacity for surprise and delight is blunted, then borrow a different set of eyes. Entice a friend to attend their first Grass Valley festival, and youíre both in for a real treat.
Posted:  5/25/2011

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