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.