2020 CamFest at Mandolin Farms goes on as scheduled

We had a bluegrass festival! 

Since March of this year, and the invasion of COVID-19, bluegrass events and festivals have been all but silenced. Some are having private events and small gatherings, but the places many of us call home for the summer have been shut down due to the virus. That is until CamFest this past weekend.

Vic Adams and his family have been involved in the Kentucky bluegrass scene for many years. Adams is a partner in one of Kentucky’s biggest festivals, Rudyfest. Last year, after the death of his nephew, Colt, Vic decided to put a festival together at Mandolin Farms in Flemingsburg, KY as a memorial, and a way to donate a scholarship to the school that Colt attended. The festival is named after him – The Colt Adams Memorial bluegrass festival. The family again relived some terrible news this year when Vic’s dad, George, was diagnosed with liver cancer and only given a short time to remain with us.

Mandolin Farms is set in the rolling hills of northern Kentucky. I’ve traveled the bluegrass roads since 1988, and I can tell you, this is one of the most beautiful venues I’ve seen. Wednesday’s bands were Weary Jammers, Noah Smith, and Coal Cave Hollow Boys. Thursday had Caleb Daugherty, Carolina Blue, Hammertowne, Sideline, and the Dave Adkins band. Fridays line up brought Sour Mash String Band, Midnight River, Junior Sisk, Volume 5, Turning Ground, and Lonesome River Band. Saturday saw Caney Creek, Deeper Shade of Blue, Don Rigsby and the Fly By Knights, Hammertowne, the Tim Shelton Syndicate, and IIIrd Tyme Out.

As you can imagine the festival was packed to the gills. Everyone was starving for music, and to see the friends they have missed all summer. Masks were offered to all who wanted one, and social distancing was encouraged. Emcees Rita Small and Bo McCarty did a great job. Keith Pokus Keeran provided stellar sound for the weekend. Fiddle player Hunter Berry was there for the weekend, and made guest appearances with several bands, as was up and comer Heather Alley. Be on the lookout for Heather! Video from the festival was all over social media from the one and only Allen “Styx” Hicks. #whywouldntya!

Friday evening brought emotions that are rarely ever seen at a festival. As I mentioned before, Vic’s dad was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. George Adams told his son he wanted to have one more bluegrass festival. Vic got the festival cleared with all the appropriate government offices. Vic stands about 7 foot tall, and made it clear he was having a festival for his dad, no one argued. The festival was being broadcast on 87.7 FM, and in a camper Friday evening, on the grounds of Mandolin Farms, George Adams went to be with the Lord, listening to the music he loved so well, and surrounded by the people he loved even more. A procession of golf carts led George’s body to the end of the road as they took him off of the hill. I don’t think George would have wanted it any other way.

Folks from as far away as Minnesota attended. Special friends, Evan Dickerson and Stormy Cushing and their families were also in attendance. One of the highlights for me was the presence of my Stanley cohort Roscoe Morgan Jr. Roscoe can sing a song as lonesome as any. We got him up on both Caney Creek sets, and he also made an appearance with Hammertowne to do some Dave Evans, and his original song that Hammertowne recently recorded, Aunt Birdies Wingback Chevrolet.

Funeral services for George were held yesterday August 11th at Mandolin Farms. Pictures for the weekend have been provided by Missy Smith, Paula Hinton, and Styx Hicks.

Keep this festival on your calendar for next year!