Resurrected Camp Springs festival endures into 2020

On the anniversary of its 50th year, Camp Springs, the first bluegrass festival to be held in North Carolina, reopened on its original site near Reidsville, Labor Day weekend of this past year. Pioneered by legendary music promoter, Carlton Haney, Bluegrass Park is now under the ownership of Cody and Donna Johnson of Caswell County, NC. The couple have just released the line-up for their next festival to be held on September 4-6, Labor Day weekend 2020.

The weekend will again feature a star studded line-up. Bands to perform on Friday are: Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Nu-Blu, and Buttermilk Creek. On Saturday, entertainers will be: the Grascals, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out , the Moore Family, the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, and Deeper Shade of Blue. Sunday’s show will feature: the Cleverlys, Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive, Dave Adkins, Special Consensus, and Dewey and Leslie Brown. 

Cindy Baucom of Knee Deep in Bluegrass will return as emcee for the weekend event. Blueridge Sound of Morganton, NC, will be back providing quality audio.

Geoffrey Keyes of Blue Ridge Sound manned the sound booth during the 50th anniversary. The young man wasn’t alive when the first festival was held, but felt honored to be part of the event. “I’m excited to see it revive. It’s a good setting. It’s a cool feeling to be a part of this history.”

The Johnsons, grounded in faith, feel blessed to have their dream to restore the historic music park come to fruition.

“We give all the praise and glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Cody confessed.

“For myself and countless others who remember the first Camp Springs Bluegrass Festival, this one was a special one and we’ll look forward to coming back next year,” the NC Bluegrass Association president expressed.

Emcee and radio personality, Bob Brewer, stated, “All of us in the bluegrass community should be pleased with the terrific work that has recently been done to revive the Camp Springs Bluegrass Park, near Reidsville, NC. Owner Cody Johnson has shown his appreciation for those who paved the way to provide this venue in the early days when festivals were fewer, and the historical significance may not have been so obvious in the moment. We look for the additional improvements coming in the years ahead.”

The new festival was held on a temporary stage in front of the site of the original stage. Portions of the first stage’s cinderblock basement and metal framing loomed as a reminder of the park’s legacy.

Donna Johnson concluded, “The plan is to use as much of the original stage as possible to rebuild. That’s our overall agenda.”

Husband, Cody, agreed, “That’s our main focus.”

Contributions to assist with the restoration process of Camp Springs Bluegrass Park may be sent to:

Camp Springs Events
1390 Pagetown Road
Elon, NC 27244

…or contact the Johnsons by phone (336) 213-1944.

Terry Smith, bassist for the Grascals, grew up near Camp Springs, attended the very first festival, and still owns land that adjoins the festival grounds. 

Smith shared, “There are many magical memories from the Camp Springs Bluegrass Festival that will live inside me forever. I am so looking forward to seeing and experiencing again, something that was once such a part of me. Hey, it’s good to be back home again.”

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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.