Photo by Max Efrein.
Originally Published: June 26, 2016 6:03 a.m.
If there’s one thing about the annual Bluegrass Festival that is constant, it’s that the community really comes out to support it.
Packing the grassy space surrounding the Yavapai County Courthouse in downtown Prescott with lawn chairs and picnic blankets on Saturday, June 25, locals and visitors lounged around throughout the day to listen to regional bluegrass bands strum and hum.
The casual fun continues today, Sunday, June 25, from 10:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Prescott Chamber of Commerce originally started the event 35 years ago. At some point it was handed off to another local nonprofit, which gave it back to the chamber about six years ago, said Chamber CEO Dave Maurer.
Ever since moving to the courthouse grounds from Watson Lake in 1996, the event has been free to attend.
The reason for that?
“There’s no way to fence downtown Prescott and charge admission at a gate,” Maurer said.
To make up for it, the chamber puts on a good number of raffles and relies on sponsors to satisfy their budget, which was about $25,000 this year, Maurer said.
For some, a price tag wouldn’t make one bit of difference.
“We’d still come,” said Jo Beloian, a spectator from Prescott. “We love it!”
For others, it would cause them to pause and think about it.
“It would all depend on the [band] line up,” said Ryan Hawkins, a spectator from Prescott Valley.
Five bands are playing this year.
One group out of Phoenix that played twice yesterday and has one set today at 2 p.m. is Old Blue Band.
The quartet plays bluegrass music the old fashioned way, said mandolinist for the band, Billy Parker.
“This is a nice festival and a nice venue,” Parker said. “So many festivals in Arizona don’t have adequate shade and things like that. Here, there’s trees, there’s grass, it’s a little cooler than down south, the organizers treat us well and the community comes out, which is really great.”
The other bands playing:
• Bluegrass Etc., which performs more than 200 shows annually in the U.S. and internationally.
• Burning Heart Bluegrass, which draws it’s repertoire from old and new classics and appears at Bluegrass festivals throughout the southwest.
• James Reams and the Barnstormers, which was nominated by the international Bluegrass Music Association in 2002 as Emerging Artist of the Year and continues to provide a contemporary take on traditional bluegrass.
• The Ping Brothers Band, a popular Prescott-based band that has performed all over the country, opening for entertainers such as Asleep at the Wheel, Delbert McClinton, Waylon Jennings and Alan Jackson.
To see the festival schedule for performance times, go to BlueGrassFestival.com.