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Musicfest at Sugar Grove North Carolina

Updated on November 22, 2013
Cove Creek High School at Sugar Grove near Boone NC
Cove Creek High School at Sugar Grove near Boone NC
New River Boys performed at the Solar Stage
New River Boys performed at the Solar Stage

Bluegrass and Festivals

Many of you who read my the articles from time to time know that I write also as Fiddleman and haven't posted as Cousin Fudd in a while. It's a long story and I won't begin to try and explain why I have two hub page accounts. If you've read my hubs, you know I often mention my son, Gary, who is visually impaired and a musician. We are thankful he has the gift of music and he plays mandolin and guitar. We are a father son duo along with our friend, Robbie Gilbert. As amateur musicians with no particular desire to go to the next level we often play small venues such as family reunions, church events,charitable events, rest homes and we have a weekly jam at my youngest son, Josh's barber shop near Hendersonville, NC each Saturday morning.

Gary loves to go to bluegrass festivals and when possible I drive him. We have several here in North Carolina. The first and probably most well known is Merlfest held each year and for the last 25 years at Wilkes Community College in North Wilkesboro. Merlefest showcases the premier bluegrass bands from across the USA and now from foreign countries. The event includes a wide variety of music and work shops.Informal jams have become very popular during this four day event.and a special area id designated for this purpose. Musicians regardless of their level of expertise and sit and play their instruments.Kindred spirits and the music make a great activity where lasting friendships seem to occur spontaneously.

Merlfest was created by Doc Watson as a memorial for his son, Merle who died in a tragic accident. This festival draws over 80,000 fans each year. For most of the years of its existence, Sunday morning at the Creekside allowed festival goers opportunity to worship. Doc always did a set of gospel music often accompanied by the Nashville Bluegrass Band and others. Doc savored this time where he would share his faith.which he held dear.and were a big part of his roots.

For several years we have gone to Asheville First Class. Held each year at the Holiday Inn, promoter Milton Harkey books top name performers. The event begins on Friday and many fans book rooms in the hotel and stay for the full weekend. Many are casual musicians who find the camaraderie of those like minded individuals who simply want to sit and jam playing vintage Gibson and Martin guitars, banjo, fiddles, and almost any stringed instrument in an informal setting and attend concerts throughout the day and long into the evening by their favorite bands.

The Mountain Song Festival in Brevard is close to our home, only a 30 minute drive. Each year the nationally known band The Steep Canyon Rangers bring in top names in the industry for the two day event. This festival is fairly new but grows each year.

For the last 15 years, Musicfest n Sugar Grove has become a favorite of bluegrass fans and entertainers. Musicians from our great state filled the playbill this year as it has since its inception and wowed all of us with their talents. The Snyder Family, the Cockman Family, and Darin and Brooke Aldridge were there this weekend. Gary and I drove three hours this weekend to attend our first Sugar Grove Festival. Located a short distance from Boone and the small mountain village of Linvile which has a folk culture phenomenon all its own known as the Brown Mountain Lights. Musicfest was created to raise funds for the preservation of the old Cove Creek High School, a beautiful rock building that blends with the natural landscape of the mountains.

Gary and I enjoyed the music and the mountain air and for most of the day an overcast sky kept the July temperatures nice and the smell of Walnut trees only added to accentuate the beauty of this pristine mountain valley. There were the usual festival crowds and vendors but the mountain community turned out in droves. We saw over 12 bands and performers each with a uniqueness in style that was pleasing to say the least; yet with a common string, music that was sweet.resonating and touching the innermost being a connection that can be heard with the ears and felt within the spirit. Several of the bands were made up of families.The Cockman family from the Lake Norman area, and the Snyder family not only entertained us, The strong bonds of a heritage rooted and bound by love was unmistakable.

By the time we folded our chairs our bluegrass appetites had been whetted. The long drive back through the Linville Gorge, Gary likened to a roller coaster ride and Interstate 40 which would carry us back to our Green River home seemed like a million miles away. As I pulled into my driveway just short of midnight another festival had been closed but the music and our memories will suffice until the next festival.

Me, my son Gary and Robbie Gilbert playing at my son Josh's barbershop earlier this year.


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    • Cousin Fudd profile image

      RobertElias Ballard 5 years ago from From the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina

      Thanks for stopping in to read and comment.

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 5 years ago

      Fabulous Hub. Wonderful pics and info. N Carolina looks like a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing. Voted up for awesome.