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  • Last modified 33 days ago (June 13, 2019)

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Music fest to go beyond bluegrass

Staff writer

Marion County Lake has been hosting Bluegrass at the Lake for 12 years, but fans keep the event from getting old, lake resident Pam Lyle said.

“We always look forward to it,” she said. “The campsite is full, which is always fun, and they bring in quality acts. My kids at home know the bands, so they’re excited.”

Saturday will be the first time the event is open to genres of music other than bluegrass.

“In the past we tried to mainline bluegrass,” founding member Bob McCurdy said. “After seeing what the big boys are doing down at Winfield, they’re doing blue, country, and pretty much anything acoustic.”

Even within bluegrass there are different types, and that diversity is why the event draws 300 to 400 people annually, Lyle said.

“This is getting comparable to Winfield, and that’s huge,” she said. “I always thought I wouldn’t like bluegrass, but there are different genres of bluegrass.”

It will be the second year for $5 tickets, which lessens the burden on local businesses for donations, McCurdy said.

“For $5, you can’t get more entertainment anywhere else,” he said. “I don’t think I got any complaints last year.”

There will be a new format this year, with bluegrass karaoke Friday, and eight bands slated to play Saturday.

“That was the initial reason for having it, as a fundraiser,” McCurdy said. “That’s the way it remains and hopefully it grows this year. It’s the first year for a two-day event.”

Committee members try to get different acts every year, but occasionally they invite repeat musicians.

“If we see someone we like well enough, we’ll invite them back,” McCurdy said. “The main thing is that people want to get onstage and jam.”

This year’s list features four groups within an hour-and-a-half of Marion, with 80 Proof Engine from Newton, DeWayn Brothers of Emporia, Pretend Friend of Wichita, and Grody Riggins from Winfield.

While the primary acts are enjoyable, nighttime brings its own fun, with amateur musicians descending from campers to play.

“There will be bonfires all through the campsite, and the unprofessional pickers come together,” Lyle said.

Events like the festival, and the lake’s community atmosphere, are major reasons why people are willing to drive in on weekends, Lyle said.

“I have a brother from Lenora who drives four hours,” she said. “They didn’t want to drive the four hours. “They looked in Colorado, western Kansas, and Nebraska, but never felt they found the community that was here.”

When there is bad weather the event moves to the lake hall.

Last modified June 13, 2019

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