By CHERIL VERNON
Several bluegrass bands from across the country will be featured during the 37th Annual Labor Day Weekend Bluegrass Music Festival at the nostalgic Salmon Lake Park in Grapeland.
The festival, organized by the Texas Bluegrass Association, kicked off Thursday and will continue through Sunday.
“We’re expecting at least 1,200 people,” festival manager Angela Beaubouef told the Herald-Press Friday.
Today’s festivities will start with open stage from 10 a.m. to noon where guest bands will perform. The show will start on the big stage at 1:15 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m.
Sunday’s show will be held from 1:15 to 5 p.m. A church service will be held prior to the show from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. with the Rev. Mike Powell leading the service and White Dove providing the music.
Among the entertainers on the Bluegrass Music Festival schedule are Brooke and Darin Aldridge of North Carolina, who will be performing today and Sunday. The International Bluegrass Music Association named them the Emerging Artist of the Year nominee two years in a row and the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music has honored them with nominations for gospel group, album and song of the year awards.
The Aldridges’ music video “Wildflower” has recently been featured on CMT Edge, a division of CMT dedicated to spotlight an eclectic variety of acoustic artists.
Among the most beloved bands on the acoustic music scene, the Aldridges are mainstays on bluegrass charts and radio with singles lingering in top positions well after their release. Earlier this year, “When He Beckons Me Home,” from Live at Red, White and Bluegrass, hit number one on the Singing News Bluegrass Chart.
Other bands scheduled to perform today include: Gold Heart from Virginia, Gary Waldrep from Alabama, the Lone Star Bluegrass Band and Robertson County Lane.
Spring Street from Oklahoma will perform today and Sunday, while the Armstrong Family from Texas will perform only on Sunday. The Marksmen will close out the show with a performance starting at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $25 for today’s events and $15 for Sunday’s events. Children 15 and under will be admitted free with parents.
A concession stand and arts and crafts booths also are available.
“We have vendors out here selling jewelry, handmade woodwork, instruments and musical items, homemade pies and more,” Beaubouef said.
Salmon Lake Park is located at 357 Salmon Lake Rd. in Grapeland.
“This is a family-friendly, alcohol-free event. You can bring your children and watch them play in the lake and playground. There’s a tree-covered seating area, but you are encouraged to bring your lawn chairs,” Beaubouef said.
A hay wagon tractor will pick people up and move them around the park to help especially with older guests in need of a little assistance. Organizers also will have golf carts to take people from the car to the stage, if needed.
For more information about the festival, call the park at 936-687-2594, visit www.texasbluegrassassociation.com or www.salmonlakepark.com
Floyd and Fannie Salmon of Grapeland have sometimes been called the “jack-of-all-trades.” It all began as part of their dream of owning land with lots of trees and water.
In 1960, they acquired 50 acres of completely desolate land which Floyd cleared and built himself, a lake for watering cattle. A few years later, with the help of Floyd’s dad, Jake, the idea came to them to open their lake to the public. They began transforming the land into a nostalgic park. The lake was cleaned and made into a swimming lake with a sand bottom, plenty of sand beaches, piers and diving boards. Almost 300 camper hookups were installed.
Floyd was able to move old buildings and mule-drawn equipment onto the land. Some of these buildings date back to the early 1900s. He and Fannie began renovating the buildings, being careful to keep the old style and character of each building intact. The buildings are now being used for cabins, reunion halls, old stores and other places of business. Floyd then built a 10-foot water wheel which would power a grist mill.
Salmon Lake Park has a long tradition with bluegrass music. The seed was planted for the future of bluegrass music at Salmon Lake Park when Earl Garner of Elkhart dropped by and suggested that the park would be a great place for a bluegrass festival. Garner is a well-known personality in bluegrass music throughout the country. Bluegrass music originated in the hills of Kentucky and Virginia and spread southwest to become one of the most popular forms of family entertainment. The instruments used a flat-top guitar, fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, dobro and five-string banjo. There are no electrical instruments.
Promoted by Joe Featherston and Floyd Salmon, the first bluegrass festival became a reality in 1976. Labor Day weekend was chosen for the annual event. Friday evening marked the opening of the festival and Sunday morning was enhanced with worship services and bluegrass gospel music. These Labor Day weekend traditions are still in existence. Gradually, arts and crafts were added to accommodate the rapidly growing crowds. A variety of home-cooked foods and cold drinks are readily available.
Also added is the Gospel Bluegrass Festival held every Memorial Day Weekend.