Bluegrass Festival draws music fans, families in Aiken

  • Posted: Saturday, May 11, 2013 10:32 p.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, May 12, 2013 8:09 a.m.
Staff photo by Michael Ulmer
Derek Ward of North Augusta casts off his kite Saturday while listening to the bands at the Bluegrass Festival.
Staff photo by Michael Ulmer Derek Ward of North Augusta casts off his kite Saturday while listening to the bands at the Bluegrass Festival.

Ten bands jammed out over the two-day Bluegrass Festival in Aiken on Friday and Saturday, playing both traditional tunes associated with the genre and “new grass,” a more progressive style.

Christian Schaumann, event organizer and director, was thrilled with the crowds that came out for the event, especially on Friday.

“We had an absolutely crazy turnout on Friday. It was awesome,” Schaumann said. “This year’s lineup was probably the biggest one that Aiken has had.”

Bands from all over the country performed in the festival, which was held in honor of Stephen P. Groat, who co-founded the festival in 2005 with his wife Jeannie.

Featured artists this year were Blue Billy Grit, the Hackensaw Boys, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, Doug and the Henrys, Della Mae, Keller and the Keels, and the Travelin’ McCourys.

In addition to the musical lineup, the festival featured local food vendors, inflatables for kids and a beer school, which provided background knowledge of how to brew beer.

Schaumann said Aiken provides the perfect vibe to make the festival a success.

“It gives everybody a family- friendly atmosphere for everyone to come and hangout,” he said. “This year was a big turning point for us going from a local event to a nationally known event.”

Bluegrass fans from all over the Southeast came out over the two-day concert, which is in its ninth year.

“All these bands carry a big draw all over the region,” Schaumann said, noting the booking process takes about nine months.

A number of bluegrass fans brought blankets and tents to camp out and watch the show, including Sean McGovern of Hickory, N.C.

He said he’s been to the festival twice and enjoys bringing his family down to enjoy both a road trip and the tunes.

Local bluegrass fans came out too, including Larry Johnson and his family, who live in Aiken.

“We love the music and it’s a good family atmosphere. It’s a great time for everyone.”

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