Sterling Belcher RIP

Sterling Belcher with his granddaughter, Falon StephensonWe are sorry to report that festival promoter Sterling Belcher passed away on Saturday (1/30). Sterling managed the Festival In The Pines in Rocky Mt, VA for the past 30 years, and was father-in-law to bluegrass entertainer Larry Stephenson, who is married to Sterling’s daughter, Dreama.

We had posted about Sterling’s health problems when they resurfaced in the summer of 2009. To mark his passing, The Roanoke Times has published both an obituary and a feature article by Ralph Berrier on Belcher.

From Berrier’s piece…

Sterling Belcher ran a bluegrass festival for 30 years before he got up the nerve to sing on the stage.

As cancer whittled away his body, Belcher sang “The Little Log Cabin in the Lane” last May during Festival in the Pines, the three-day bluegrass event Belcher founded and operated at his tree-rimmed campground in Rocky Mount. After he finished the song, he told the crowd he hoped to see them next year, but that he didn’t know what plans the Lord had for him.

“You ain’t going nowhere, Sterling!” some in the crowd hollered at him. “You’re too ornery!”

His health only worsened, however, and Belcher died Saturday at age 71 after battling prostate cancer and strokes for much of the past four years. The family had already decided to cancel this year’s festival because of Belcher’s declining health.

Bluegrass Today expresses our condolences to the Belcher and Stephenson families.

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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.