2020 applications open for KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest

Kentucky Just Us accept their check for winning the 2019 KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest

Since 2002, Silver Dollar City has hosted the KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest as part of their annual Bluegrass & BBQ festival in the spring. During that time, talented young folks in the bluegrass realm, typically with family groups, have made the trek to Branson to compete in this prestigious event, with several going on to greater success in the music world. Last year’s winners, Kentucky Just Us, have become quite prominent on the bluegrass scene in the wake of their victory.

The 2020 contest is scheduled for May 23, and is open to acts whose members will be 21 or younger as of that date. For family groups, one or both parents are allowed to participate as long as the primary focus of the band is on the children. All contestants must perform on stage using a single microphone, and only acoustic instruments are allowed.

First prize is $1500, with $1000 going for second, $750 for third, $500 for fourth, and $250 for fifth.

Contestants must apply for a spot in advance as this is an invitational event, but there is no fee to submit an application. An entry form can be found online, which is to be returned by email with a link to a live video of the group on stage. Entries can also be sent by mail with a live performance on CD or DVD.

Judging at the competition will be based on:

  • Instrumental ability (in time, in tune, degree of difficulty) 25%
  • Vocal ability (in time, in tune, degree of difficulty) 25%
  • Professionalism (wardrobe, showmanship, microphone technique) 25%
  • Audience response 25%

Here’s Kentucky Just Us from last year’s KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest.

The Bluegrass & BBQ festival lasts the whole month of May, during which major entertainers perform at Silver Dollar City each day. More than three dozen acts are scheduled throughout the month, and there is no additional ticket required beyond admission to the park.

Full festival details can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.