Kate Lee with O’Connor Band at Wintergrass 2018 – photo © Tara Linhardt
Sunday was the last day of the four day Wintergrass festival, still jam packed with good music.
I spoke with Earla Harding who was one of the founders of the festival 25 years ago. She said that in February of 1994, they had the first festival in the Sheraton in Takoma, Washington and had sold the rooms out already by the December preceding it. By the end of the that first festival in 1994, they had already sold out the rooms for the following year. She said that for the first year, they had about 600 people who attended. I was told by Patrice O’Neil, another one of the founders and still a festival manager, that they now average about 5000 attendees each day at the festival.
Wintergrass started strong and built up from there. Earla said that the first bluegrass festival she attended was IBMA in 1986. After seeing IBMA, she and some of her colleagues started thinking about how they might bring a big indoor festival event to the Pacific Northwest.
That dream has definitely come true, with Wintergrass in its 25th year, attracting people from the whole western US, plus some from around the country and beyond. I know that I am among many who are anxiously awaiting next year’s festival already.
Congratulations on 25 years of a very successful festival and hopefully it will keep on for another 25 years or more to come.
Here is Tom Rozum, Laurie Lewis with lots of special guests and a lovely ending.
Mike Marshall and Darol Anger doing some classic Monroe tunes.
The grand finale of the festival was the Wintergrass Youth Orchestra, comprised of middle school musicians. They are conducted by Bob Phillips and Andy Carlson, and were accompanied by special guests like The O’Connor Family Band, Mike Marshall and Darol Anger, Rushad Eggleston, and Kittel and Co.
This program introduces kids who are studying classical music to some of the traditional music forms, and hopefully perks their interest in exploring folk music like bluegrass even more. Everyone did a really fantastic job all around, and here is a little sampler of some of the show.