Every year we go on and on about festival season, and each year a few more pop up and die off. Many are so small or out of reach that they come and go without much notice, but every few years one takes root and makes its presence known on the local calendar.
This year, it's safe to say the latest newcomer to establish itself is the Skiatook Bluegrass Festival.
This isn't just a fly by night operation. Now in its fourth year, the Skiatook Bluegrass Festival has continued to grow year over year and make its mark, not only by providing a weekend of good music and entertainment, but also by giving back to the community.
Established as 501c3, non-profit organization, in association with the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), the festival's main goal and purpose is to promote music in the schools. As such, the bulk of the profits from the festival are fed back into the schools for just that purpose.
It's been widely accepted for years and research shows that music classes and instrument lessons can help not only round out children's education, but also give those students and outlet that keeps them out of trouble. While music of all forms is widely taught and appreciated in schools nationwide, it is believed by some that the more organic and interactive nature of bluegrass music can appeal to a broader spectrum of students.
It's just that interactive nature of the music that has helped the festival establish its roots and become an event that is highly anticipated by those who have attended in previous years.
Tucked away in the back of the Skiatook Park and Sports Complex, it might be easy to miss the festival going on behind the ball parks in the front of the property. In the back half of the complex, however, lays a huge acreage that allows space for not only the music stages and vendors, but also camping spots and over 100 RV hookups.
While the festival grounds open this Thursday evening, June 26, for campers to find their spots and band competitions to start the weekend off, the music starts in earnest on Friday afternoon, June 27, with music wrapping up late Saturday night.
Line Em Up
Eleven bands will be performing over the weekend including a mix of local, regional and nationally known bluegrass artists.
The festival's "house band" of sorts, The Zoograss Boys (who perform in public schools during the school year) will open up the main stage at noon on Friday and appear again at 7pm on Saturday night before Newfound Road and The Wilders wrap up the evening.
Each of the four national acts will perform twice, playing an afternoon and evening set. The Chapmans and Cedar Hill will appear on Friday, and The Wilders and Newgrass Road on Saturday.
Local and regional acts like Klondike 5, Springstreet, The Park Family, Bonham Revue and Neverly Hillbillies have all built strong followings, but perhaps the most anticipated local band of the weekend is Rockin' Acoustic Circus.
he band is young for the genre: all the members are teens or pre-teens. Even so, Emma and Zac Hardin, Sterling Abernathy, Carson Clemshire and Eric Dysart play like seasoned veterans on stage and are quickly becoming one of the most popular young acoustic acts in the region.
Of course, they do have an esteemed mentor in Rick Morton, who has played with Brooks & Dunn and The Tractors. But the group's sheer musicianship has not only won over audiences at last weekend's Jazzfest at the Depot, but also earned the band a spot at the prestigious Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas.
Rockin' Acoustic Circus will be opening the main stage on Saturday morning at 11am, following the junior fiddle contest and will kick off a full day of fun and music.
Setting Up Shop
Aside from the band performances, there will also be musician workshops on both mornings: Friday features instructional sessions for Fiddle, claw hammer banjo, guitar and mandolin, and Saturday morning is set aside for a workshop on songwriting skills.
Throughout the weekend, food and drinks will be available from a variety of vendors, and a kid's tent will be open to entertain the younger crowd with sing-alongs and crafts.
Music will likely overflow into the campgrounds well into the night as it has in years past. It's not uncommon to see young children singing and dancing along with adults two and three generations ahead of them--this proves the point that bluegrass can be enjoyed by all ages and the entire family,
If you're looking for a weekend getaway without too long a drive, try the Skiatook Bluegrass Festival. Skiatook is roughly 30 miles Northwest of Tulsa, just off of Highway 11. Directions and more details can be found online at skiatookbluegrass.com.
Tickets are only $12 per day or $20 for the weekend and camping is an additional $12 per night for RVs or $3 per night for tents. Campsites include electric and water, as well as a "grey water" dumpsite.
With some cooperation from the weather gods, the Skiatook Bluegrass Festival offers a great opportunity to get away for the weekend and get back to Americana's musical roots. And just by attending, you'll be supporting not only local musicians, but putting music back into the schools.
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