Rain stays away from Big Lick ’23, and Sideline to return as hosts

Sideline’s final show as a touring band was this past weekend at the Big Lick Bluegrass Festival in Oakboro, NC, where they served as hosts. Attendees who cam to catch the band received a pleasant surprise.

“We’re not done!”, Steve Dilling, Sideline banjoist, announced from the stage on Saturday afternoon. 

Though the band is coming off the road, Sideline will play a few select dates. Promoter Jeff Branch invited them to return to host next year’s festival as well. Dilling and his partner, son-in-law and Sideline guitarist, Skip Cherryholmes, agreed.

“We’ll keep doing this as long as we’re able,” Dilling confidently affirmed.

With heavy downpours in the area, Big Lick Festival grounds were spared, and the entire weekend offered beautiful weather, record crowds, and good music. The park is under new ownership and upgrades have been made, and will continue. New co-owner, Phillip Austin, followed Sideline’s return announcement with promises to build a new bathhouse and add new camper hook-ups for next year’s festival.

Jeff Branch shared, “This year’s festival was phenomenal. There was a lot of energy and excitement, from not only the bands, but the fans also. I was very pleased with the excitement and enthusiasm shown this entire weekend. I am grateful that Sideline wants to host the festival again, and we are in discussion to make it bigger and better.”

Dates for next year’s Big Lick Bluegrass Festival are April 18-20, 2024.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.