2024 Willow Oak Father’s Day festival begins

Lonesome River Band at the 2024 Willow Oak Bluegrass Festival (6/13/24) – photo by Sandy Hatley

“It’s been a good day,” said Mike Wilson, promoter of the annual Father’s Day weekend bluegrass festival at Willow Oak Park near Burlington, NC. “The weather cooperated. We’d had a good crowd, we’re sold out of all electrical hook-ups, and campers have been coming in pretty steady.” Theres still plenty of room for camping in the rough in his beautiful rural 60 acre campground. 

Located in Roxboro in north central North Carolina, Willow Oak Bluegrass Festival is the product of Wilson, and host band Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road. They have worked diligently to provide top notch talent in a beautiful, family-friendly setting.

Jordan, along with her lead singer, Allen Dyer, agreed, “It’s a great start to a great family style bluegrass festival. The line-up is made up of fantastic traditional well known bands. We’ve had beautiful weather, and it’s the most beautiful venue in bluegrass. There’s lots of golf carts, and picking in the parking lot going on. Mike Wilson has everything running smooth. It’s not too late to come!”

Thursday’s line-up featured the Lonesome River Band, Dave Adkins & Mountain Soul, Big Country Bluegrass, and Larry Efaw & the Bluegrass Mountaineers. Efaw was a proud PopPop to have his 19-year-old grandson, Chris, join him on stage playing guitar. During their second set, Adam Burrows, Efaw’s fiddler, encored with his special 8-string fiddle, playing and singing, Me and My Fiddle. Rebel Records’ Big Country Bluegrass featured the high lead singing of Eddie Gill and the smooth fiddling of Tim Laughlin. Under a clear Carolina quarter moon, Adkins performed his own version of Alabama’s Dixieland Delight singing “on a North Carolina Thursday night.” Lonesome River Band closed out the first day with an extended set with the powerhouse band celebrating their 42nd year in the music industry.

Today’s show features Authentic Unlimited, the Junior Sisk Band, Little Roy & Lizzy, the Kevin Prater Band, and host band, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road. On Saturday, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, the Gospel Plowboys, Kody Norris Band, Drive Time, and Jordan’s band will perform. Workshops are offered each morning, fiddle and banjo with Little Roy & Lizzy on Thursday, and vocals with the Gospel Plowboys on Saturday.

MCs for the festival are HWY 40 Bluegrass’ Doug Whitley and Lorraine’s dad, Royce Jordan. Sound is provided by Voigt Enterprises of Richmond, VA. Concessions and permanent restrooms are available on site.

“We’ve had a good start and hoping for more folks to come in,” Wilson concluded.

Willow Oak Park is located 3.5 miles south of Roxboro off NC Hwy 49 at 895 Blalock Dairy Road, one hour north of the Raleigh/Triangle area. For more information, visit their web site or contact Mike by email.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.