The first time I met John Hutchinson, was when my band and I stopped by the Amelia Virginia Family Bluegrass Festival, on a day off between our shows. I believe it was the 2001 August festival. I called ahead and asked if they had a slot we could play, since we were passing through. They said, “Come on and we’ll put you on.”
As soon as we arrived, a gentleman grabbed me by the arm, and walked me through the middle of the huge audience, right up to the front of the stage where Ralph Stanley was performing. That man was John Hutchinson, the owner of the Amelia Family Campground. John stood in front of the stage and motioned to Ralph Stanley, right in the middle of his show, and said, “Look what I’ve got!” Then he escorted me around to the back of the stage and around the other side to be sure everyone had seen us.
This is one example of how John Hutchinson lived life to it’s fullest. Always having fun, and making sure everyone else was having as much fun as he was. Always full of courage and encouragement to others.
From that day forward, John booked my band, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, every year at his bluegrass festival. His family became my family, and he treated each and every person that drove into his campground the same way.
John would stand at the entrance of the festival and greet each person as they arrived. You would see him constantly browsing the grounds throughout the festival, and on the last day, as that festival came to a close, he would stand and wave goodbye to each camper as they pulled out of the grounds, inviting them to return next year.
One of my favorite photos of John is when we co-hosted a Bluegrass Halloween in Amelia. He dressed up in a leisure suit he had kept for 50 years, and it still fit him. He couldn’t wait to show off his suit, and to flaunt the accessories he dressed it up with.
This fun loving man was also an American Veteran. One of the greatest performances of my lifetime was performing a special tribute to our veterans on the Grand Ole Opry House stage in Nashville, TN in October 2006. John Hutchinson proudly stood with the many veterans and active duty soldiers on stage during that performance of Till They Came Home.
He was proud of his country and proud to have served.
John hosted countless events to benefit his community, and these are just a few of my favorite memories of a man we loved so very dearly.
After hearing of his death, I wrote this poem in his honor:
A Dedication To John Hutchinson:
Tears are flowing although we know,
the man we loved just had to go.
His courage so strong, his death he faced;
just like his life he left with such grace.
He waves goodbye with a wink and a grin.
Looking forward to the time we will see him again.
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