49th annual Armuchee Bluegrass Festival

This report is a contribution from Audie Finnell, who also provided the photos.

The Armuchee Bluegrass Festival kicked off its 49th consecutive season over the past Memorial Day Weekend in Georgia, with a few changes due to the ongoing, yet diminishing pandemic. The festival is traditionally held over the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends each year, but because of the pandemic, both dates were cancelled last year out of an abundance of caution. Although a big disappointment to fans and regular attendees, most still recognized the need for the cancellations, and were ebullient at the announced resumption this year, despite the few changes.

As announced on their Facebook page, there would be no booked stage acts so as to avoid congregating large groups in the stage building, so consequently, they cut the daily admission price in half. Only camping and jamming, which is what most come for anyway, so says Chuck Langley, the festival’s founder. The camping rates remained the same, for both hookups and tent. They left it up to the individual’s own discretion as to whatever safety protocols (social distancing, mask wearing) they would choose to observe while in the camping area.

While the festival was not yet all the way back to normal, Langley said their Labor Day weekend festival should be back to its traditional way of operation, if the pandemic continues its decline.

Asked about what it meant to have to completely shut down last year’s festivals, and whether that presented any financial difficulties which might affect the festival going forward, Langley answered with an emphatic, “No!”

“We (his late wife and he) never started this thing to make money. It’s never been about the money.” Langley said his biggest concern was for his regular staff who help pull it off year after year.

They went through all last year not knowing when or if they would be able to work again, and were still making adjustments this year to accommodate the safety guidelines, “like having to move the kitchen outdoors.”

Judging from the crowded camping area, the festival was quite successful and a big hit with the fans who longed for and anxiously awaited its return.