Author: Campbell, Bruce

A Tale of 8 Father's Day Festival Rookies

This was a special year for me at the Father’s Day Festival. For one, I got to play on the Big Stage with a California Showcase Band – always an honor. Secondly, I was able to convince a number of people to come to their first Father’s Day Festival. Will this swell the ranks of future festivals? Let’s examine these rookies in a little more depth.

First and foremost – my wife, Cassy, came to this year’s festival for the first time! Oddly enough, years of me coming home dirty and exhausted on Father’s Day afternoon, bragging about getting 5 hours’ sleep over 3-4 nights, then collapsing into bed and sleeping until dinner failed to be a compelling argument for going to this event, at least for her. My wife is a not a huge bluegrass fan, but she likes good live music, and she likes fun, so she agreed to come. The fact that my sister booked a room at the luxurious Grass Valley Courtyard Suites also affected her decision, I think. Does this mean she’ll be coming every year? Does this mean she’ll be staying in a hotel every time she does come? I think, no, on both counts. I suspect this won’t be her last Father’s Day Festival, but I don’t think she’ll want to come every year. And she likes camping, so I suspect she’ll sample the Father Day Festival camping experience at some point. So we’re calling this a 50/50 chance of increased festival attendance from Cassy.

Secondly, I cajoled my old buddy Ken, his wife Donna, and their youngest son, Ethan into attending this year. Ken has been a dear friend for over 45 years, and we’ve played music together nearly the same span. I have been in a bluegrass band with Ken since 1994. Moreover, his son has taken up fiddle, so I think they found this event interesting, and I think we’re see more of them in the coming years. His wife is also a close friend of Cassy’s, and I think there will be some years when the two of them come, too. They can get their fill of bluegrass, shop Grass Valley, enjoy wine and expect to have a lot of fun, but every year – I’d be pleasantly surprised.

Another old friend, Dan, whom I have known since high school, also attended his first Father’s Day Festival. Dan is not a musician, and not specifically a bluegrass fan, but Dan collects experiences like some people collect stamps, and he was clearly intrigued by the vibe of the whole event. He is highly intelligent, and possesses big energy and intense focus. I believe Dan will be back year after year, and will also be a valuable volunteer. I think he will be well-known to you all within a few years.

Two business acquaintances of mine, who own the printing shop that did our CBA posters and postcards, also came to this year’s festival for the first time. They made a fun “picnic” day of it, and had a good time. They had no idea how varied bluegrass music could be, and were pretty up front that they liked some better than others. I think their horizons were broadened by the experience, and while I doubt they’ll make the Grass Valley pilgrimage again, I bet they do attend some more bluegrass shows locally.

Another fellow (Fred), who works with my sister, came to the festival the first time. He IS a bluegrass musician, but had never made the trip. He had big eyes and big smiles, and brought his wife and young son along. I didn’t get a chance to chat with him much, but I’m betting if he got his instrument out of the case, even once, he’ll be back!

Every single one of these first-timers was amazed and the size and breadth of event, but at the same time, marveled at the closeness of the community – everyone seems to know everyone else, and everyone is very friendly and engaging. This, along with the music we all love, makes the Father’s Day Festival, and probably, any multi-day bluegrass festival, an experience to cherish. And some will be moved to repeat the experience, year after year.

Posted:  6/22/2011

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