The Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival will be held August 29, 30, 31, and September 1, 2019. First established in 1979 by Pati Crooker, of Brunswick, Maine, with the goal of bringing traditional Bluegrass Music to coastal Maine, the event has grown into a much anticipated Labor Day weekend tradition for 40 years. Since its inception, the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival has hosted nearly 300 of the best bands in Bluegrass music on its historic stage, including fan favorites, internationally renowned acts, Bluegrass legends, and up-and coming new talent.
The Bluegrass Festival was born out of Pati Crooker’s desire to bring quality, family friendly programming to Thomas Point Beach, the business that was begun by her parents in 1956. Pati was only 11 years old when the Crooker family turned the recreational property into the aptly known “Family Fun Spot”. Harry C. Crooker, Pati’s father, bought the land with the goal of providing a safe, clean facility for young and old to come together to enjoy the outdoors. By 1979, Pati was fully committed to managing the growing day park and beach and was seeking events that could help support and sustain the daily operations. In an article from Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine in 1999, Crooker explained, “I just tried the idea of a festival to help support my existing business and try to supplement the income from the day park. People told me I could never make any money at it, that festivals don’t make money, but you have to love it to do it. The festival did help keep the park going and eventually I found I truly loved it. It’s like having friends come over to spend the weekend with me.”
The Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival ran for 30 successful years, earning a reputation for being one of the nation’s best managed and family-friendly festivals, and was highly acclaimed for its attention to detail and consistent show quality culminating in winning the 2007 International Bluegrass Associations Event of the year in Nashville. The festival went on an indefinite hiatus in 2008, as Pati took time off to focus on her family, but the people still came to camp and the music still played on Labor Day weekend. These “non-festival” years proved the life of the event was so much bigger than the line-up on stage, so in 2011 Pati, this time with the support of her son Michael Mulligan, brought the event back re-branded as the “Bluegrass Special.” In a conversation with long-time festival associate Shari Elder, she said “They are coming any way, we might as well give them a show.”
The “Bluegrass Special” continued to draw in friends old and new to hear the high lonesome sounds of the bluegrass genre like it had never missed a beat. In 2015, Pati enjoyed every second of what she may have suspected would be her last Bluegrass Festival, as she worked the whole season while battling cancer. In her program book that year, she quoted Bill Monroe, known as the Father of Bluegrass Music, “Bluegrass has brought more people together, and more friends than any music in the world. You meet people at festivals and renew acquaintances year after year.” Pati and Bill shared a close friendship and Mr. Monroe played the festival 4 times over the years. Pati believed in his words, and it showed in the special touches she brought to her event, like the “Welcome Home” sign at the gate. She considered the staff, musicians, and guests all part of one big family, and the festival was the annual family reunion.
In June 2016, Pati lost her life to cancer. That Labor Day weekend a “Celebration of Life” was held in lieu of the festival to honor her life and legacy and the music played on during a beachfront service, a stage show, and throughout the camping groves as people shared their stories and memories. After feeling the love and support from so many, the decision to keep the tradition going seemed obvious. In 2017, the next generation took hold. Michael and his wife Jennifer, with the help and support of long-time festival associates, Shari Elder and Jenna Summers, along with industry experts, family and dear friends, decided to bring back the popular event.
After two successful years under this team, Thomas Point Beach prepares to celebrate 40 years since the festival was established in 1979. One festival goer in a recent survey descirbes the event “Awesome time listening to great music, hanging out with great people, playing at the beach and all in a wonderful place. Before 2018 it had been 10 years since I attended the festival. The world is not the same place it was 10 years ago and I am not the same person I was 10 years ago but somehow this festival is still just as great 10 years later.”
The 2019 show will follow the same format as past, throughout the weekend event, the stage show mixes regional favorites with Bluegrass legends and award winners, as well as a solid mix of the traditional and the contemporary. Thursday will kick off the events with the Showcase Competition featuring six outstanding up-and-coming bands, playing for a cash prize and a place in the Main Stage Line-up. The evening will be headlined by two past Showcase Winners, The Lonely Heartstring Band (2013 winner) and Beg, Steal, or Borrow (2014 Winner) and the show will close with a performance by Della Mae.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday feature an incredible line-up of bands with a 12 hour stage show that runs from 10 am to 10 pm. The complete line-up of performers is available at the event website www.thomaspointbeach.com. Some highlights of Friday’s performers include 2019 Grammy nominee, Sister Sadie, 2016 Grammy winner The SteelDrivers, and 14 time Grammy winner Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn.
Entertainment is what the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival is about and on Saturday the 2018 IBMA Entertainer of the year, Balsam Range will bring their renowned vocal harmonies and fiery instrumentals to the stage for two sets. Special Consesus will play music from their 2019 Grammy nominated album “River & Roads”, and the night will end with the aptly named “Queen of Bluegrass”, Rhonda Vincent, who will join her band The Rage on stage both Saturday and Sunday. Thomas Point Beach’s all time festival favorites, The Gibson Brothers will close the main stage show for the weekend on Sunday evening joining traditional favorites Larry Stephenson, Danny Paisley, and The Grascals, along with many others throughout the weekend.
The Main Stage is only part of the story with a complete line-up of Instructional and Artist Workshops, Family Activities, Guided Jams, food and merchandise vendors, and after-hour sets rounding out the festivities.
Music starts at 1 pm Thursday, and 10 am Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The full line-up is available on-line. When the stage show is over, the best is yet to come, with the acoustic performances by the fire and under the stars and the best field picking anywhere!
Advanced Tickets are now available for a discount at thomaspointbeachbluegrass.com. Weekend tickets include camping. Children under 12 years of age are FREE and Teens (13-16) Pay 1/2 the Adult Rate with an adult. Please call or visit the website for complete event information and policies.
Thursday, Aug. 29 - Sunday, Sep. 01
Thu. Aug. 29th: 1pm - 10pm
Fri. Aug. 30th: 10am - 11pm
Sat. Aug. 31st: 10am - 11pm
Sun. Sep. 1st: 10am - 11pm
29 Meadow Road
Brunswick, Maine, 04011