For more than three decades the Mineral Bluegrass Festival has been one of the premiere attractions in the town of Mineral.
The festival returns to Walton Park for its 32nd season July 16 through 18 featuring the star power that has made this event a success for decades
“This year’s festival features some of the legends of bluegrass,” said festival coordinator George Shifflett. “The fans can expect to hear some of the best traditional and modern-day bluegrass played.”
James King Band headlines a list of 15 bands over three days. The band was nominated for a 2014 Grammy award for Best bluegrass album, “Three Cords and the Truth.”
Big Country Bluegrass is another popular group making a name for itself in the industry. The group’s single, “I’m putting on Leaving Shoes,” recently was ranked the No.1 song in the country in terms of air-play on Bluegrass Unlimited.
Clark Shifflett & The Dixie Flyer Show and Bluegrass Revue bring a local feel to the festival. The group originates from nearby Orange and features an eclectic range from Roger Miller to Creedence Clearwater Revival to several of its own original pieces.
In addition to veteran groups, this year’s Mineral Bluegrass Festival will feature up-and-coming stars like Cody Norris, The Martin Brothers and.. The Malpass Brothers, who recently toured with country music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard, is also expected to perform.
“Over the years, Mineral Bluegrass has been considered to be one of the top festivals on the circuit in both attendance and quality of performers,” Shifflett said. “One might say that all of the legends have played the Mineral Bluegrass Festival at one time or the other.”
Shifflett credits the longevity of the festival to its founders, Jimmie and Shirley Dodd.
“Jimmie and Shirley were great lovers of bluegrass and that holds true today,” Shifflett said. “They were instrumental in getting the festival going, along with some friends that shared the same feelings.”
The Dodd family was instrumental in bringing Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to play the first festival in 1983.
“Somehow, Jimmie persuaded Lester to play the first festival,” Shifflett said. “The stage consisted of a hay wagon, which was a common practice at the time. Lance Leroy told me that he helped cut the bushes in order to have a concert area. That’s saying a lot for a road manager.”
The festival hit its peak in 2000 following the release of the film, “O Brother, Where Art Thou,”starring George Clooney.
“Over the years ,top class acts were booked and this led to very successful festivals,”Shifflett said. “It continues to be the music choice to many of the seniors.”
Shifflett admits that attendance at the festival has “waned over the past few years.” He said they need another movie to generate new interest and more involvement in the younger generation.
Regardless, the festival is still popular thanks to the outstanding support of the Dodd family.
“Their pay came by way of the love they shared for the music,” Shifflett said. “Today, both of them share information and suggestions that only a bluegrass veteran and lover of bluegrass would know.”
Shifflett hopes this year’s event will help to reinvigorate interest in the festival. As a result, Louisa County residents will received a $5 discount on ticket price at the gate.
Music begins at 11 a.m. daily and will conclude at 10:50 p.m. Adult ticket prices are $30 at the gate for each day. Children 12 and younger are free. There are also special three-day passes available. Visit www.mineralbluegrass.com.
“We’re looking for some of the best performances ever and, hopefully, a large crowd of attendees.,” Shifflett said.