For many bluegrassers, especially those of the older generations, the name Camp Springs is synonymous with festivals. With Carlton Haney at the helm, it was the place to be on Labor Day weekend throughout the 1970s. After several decades with no events, Cody Johnson purchased the bluegrass park property and has spent the past few years reinvigorating it into a premier location for music festivals and other large celebrations.
Part of that process included the inaugural Camp Springs String Music Championships, held this past weekend (June 11-12) at the park in Elon, NC. Musicians and fans alike were welcomed for a fun weekend of campground picking and fiddlers convention-style contests. A good crowd turned out despite rainstorms and the threat of flooding throughout the weekend, and there was plenty of fine music to be heard from both the stage and the campers and tents.
The whole experience was first rate, with extremely friendly staff to greet you and take care of any needs, a neat and clean campground with very nice facilities, and a simple registration process for the competition. Johnson and his family are dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Camp Springs park, and it certainly shows in the hard work they have put in. Unlike most other fiddlers conventions in the region, each person could compete in two individual categories as well as the band competition. You could also choose to be judged for your individual contest while performing with a band. Serving as MC was Cindy Baucom, whose easygoing, cheerful manner helped the contests and performances run with ease.
Baucom also helped announce the lineup for the upcoming Labor Day Bluegrass Festival at Camp Springs, which will include such acts as Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Bobby Osborne, Lonesome River Band, and Ralph Stanley II, among others. A number of the scheduled acts were at the famous 1971 festival at which the Bluegrass Country Soul film was shot, which was planned to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film. The Labor Day festival will be held September 3-5.
Johnson plans to hold a second annual String Music Championships next year around the same time. I certainly plan on being there again!
For more information on the Camp Springs Bluegrass Park, visit them online.