Starvy Creek 2008 Fall Festival
As the clock struck midnight this past Saturday night the 2008 Fall Bluegrass Festival at Starvy Creek was coming to an end. For the past 17 years each Fall Don & Bobbie Day along with family members and various friends have put on this wonderful Bluegrass Festival‚Ä¶ this year was no exception.
It all began on Thursday evening when the Wildwood Valley Boys opened the Festival with over 3000 fans spread across the five acre amphitheater located in a mature stand of oak trees. By the time Rhonda Vincent & The Rage took the stage a short time later the crowd was primed and ready for a great weekend of Bluegrass music. Green Valley Grass and The Jeanette Williams Band finished out the evening’s entertainment as the midnight hour approached.
As the crowd dispersed into the moonlit night the sound of music could be heard coming from the campground area. With over 350 RV’s located in the park you were sure to find a jam session to listen to or play in. Of course this mandolin picker could not resist the temptation and I found myself amongst my` brothers and sisters enjoying the wonderful music genre called "Bluegrass." Friday’s entertainment was to begin at 11 am and so as the clock struck 2 am I was headed back to the RV for a little shut eye.
The early hour of 7 am found me awake and headed to the main entrance for what has become a custom for me at Starvy Creek, coffee and conversation with Don Day and his right hand man, Jim Burgess. Topic of this morning’s conversation; a little history of Starvy Creek.
23 years ago this past July 4th weekend Don and Bobbie Day put together a "music party" for friends and family. A patch of grass was mowed in this fescue hayfield, a small stage was built and the party began. Nine campers along with the Day clan and their friends enjoyed the music from; Bluegrass Ramblers, Calton Family, Jim Orchard & The Bressler Brothers, Hard Times and Down Home Bluegrass. From that beginning the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival was born. Six years later the crowds had become so large that Don and Bobbie decided to add a Fall Festival to hopefully allow more people the opportunity to attend. This past weekend was the 17th Fall Festival. As we talked I asked about all the photos lining the walls of the backstage area. Don shared with me the history of performers who had signed photos and hung them on the wall. He then handed me a key to the stage area and told me to go take a look. I spent the next 30 minutes taking a look at the 23 year history of performers at Starvy Creek. From the black & white photo of Jimmy Martin to the color photo of Rhonda Vincent it was the "Who’s who" of Bluegrass music. Coffee time over with, it was time for Don to get busy with the days’ chores. For me it was time to get ready for a day of music.
Friday brought another great lineup of bands; The Drifters, Jim Orchard & The Ozark Mountain Boys, Williams & Clark Expedition, Dale Ann Bradley, Casey Grimes & The Atta boys along with The Martin Family provided a great day of entertainment. Of course there was always a highlight of each day’s music and for me it was the entertainment of Blake Williams the Banjo player for Williams & Clark Expedition along with the wonderful voice of Casey Grimes. Again the music ran till shortly before midnight, then it was off to another night of jamming. Bedtime did not arrive till 2 am.
Saturday’s coffee time brought about discussion of the number of people present for the past couple of nights shows. Jim’s observations led to the estimate of "a hillside full" while Don’s more accurate measurement of around 3000 for each night’s performance. No doubt that today’s lineup would bring in another great crowd. Coffee break over; Jim headed to tell some tall tales at the outdoor woodstove, Don off to do his daily chores in the park, I for some breakfast and preparations for the day’s music. I had not gone very far into the campground when I found myself caught up in another jam session with some friends.
As Saturday progressed it was a day of both anticipation and sadness. This was going to be one of the greatest lineups of bands in Starvy Creek history and yet the sadness of it all coming to an end for another year weighed on my mind. David Parmley & Continental Divide, J.D. Crowe & The New South and Dailey & Vincent highlighted the day’s shows. The rain clouds began to gather in the late afternoon sky. Dailey & Vincent had just taken the stage and were in the middle of the song "By the Mark" when the clouds opened up and sent the crowd seeking cover from the rain. An hour later the rain left, the crowd returned and the music resumed. It was a memorable night of music. The legendary J.D. Crowe who recently celebrated his 71st birthday played his banjo like he was 40. Then Dailey & Vincent returned for their second show. 45 minutes and three standing ovations later had both Jamie Dailey and Darren Vincent with tears in their eyes from the appreciation shown by over 3000 fans in attendance. As Jamie and Darren performed "Not just a name on the Wall" those who have served and are serving our Country were recognized for their service. It was another great night of music that came to an end early on Sunday morning.
I packed the RV and hit the road for home shortly after the Saturday show. But before heading out the gate I made one last stop at the entrance. My friend Don Day was standing there looking over the amphitheater as bands were packing their equipment. I thanked him for another great weekend of music. Don’s words rang in my ears as I drove off into the foggy night, "I appreciate you coming, its people like you that make this possible." While it may take people like me to make this possible‚Ä¶Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festivals would not be possible without people like Don & Bobbie Day.
For more information about Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festivals go to http://www.starvycreek.com/
Pepper Jackson- Proud caretaker of the Red Pepper Mandolin
About the author- Pepper Jackson is a freelance writer who lives near Halltown, MO. His love of Bluegrass music has led him on a journey throughout this Great Country with his Wynn Mandolin, Red Pepper. Their search is for the history and stories behind this the wonderful art form called "Bluegrass music."
You can read more about the author and his journeys at www.redpeppermando.com