Jerusalem Ridge still in the courts

ridgeIt appears that the legal dispute surrounding the use of Bill Monroe’s name in association with the Jerusalem Ridge festival near Rosine, KY is still simmering.

On January 11, the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that had enjoined Campbell Mercer and the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Foundation from using the Monroe name. The action was initially brought by the Ohio County Industrial Foundation, which owns and maintains the Bill Monroe Homeplace property. The appellate court ruled that the Industrial Foundation had previously granted Jerusalem Ridge the rights to use Monroe’s name, as Mercer had alleged.

But now Ohio County has filed a petition with the Court of Appeals seeking a rehearing, according to a piece in the Evansville Courier & Press over the weekend. There is no indication yet as to whether the rehearing will be granted, or whether the Industrial Foundation – a private non-profit established in the 1960s to manage an industrial park in the county and promote jobs – will seek a hearing by the Kentucky Supreme Court should it be denied.

The festival is a cherished event, as it had been held until 2012 on the property where Bill Monroe was born. The small home where Bill was raised, after the log cabin in which he was born was destroyed by fire, was restored by the Bill Monroe Foundation (now the Jerusalem Ridge Foundation) and opened to the public as a tourist destination in 2001.

Campbell Mercer, an independent Kentucky veterinarian and director of the Jerusalem Ridge Foundation and festival, tells us that he thought the January ruling would mark the end of this controversy.

Campbell Mercer“I had hoped that the Appeals Court decision would bring all the sides together.

Bill Monroe’s names doesn’t need to be a political football. We had been using the Monroe name since 2004, and Bill’s son James was fine with it.

Then the Industrial Foundation shut us down from using the name during Bill’s centennial in 2011.”

The 2012 Jerusalem Ridge festival was held on a parcel of land adjacent to the homeplace, which Mercer purchased for that reason. The Jerusalem Ridge Foundation is continuing to renovate the facility, but Campbell says that he remains unsure where the festival will be held this year.

“We’re still moving ahead, continuing to upgrade the new farm.

Our 2012 attendees liked this new site; it’s Monroe land, and belonged to Bill’s grandfather. But I still have a soft spot for the original homeplace. I hope that we can merge the two properties eventually”

I just think it’s really important that we stay independent.”

We’ll report whatever else we can learn about Jerusalem Ridge 2013.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.