By Keith Gushard
VERNON TOWNSHIP —
Melody Deets doesn’t ever remember not attending the annual Bluegrass Festival at the Days Inn near Meadville.
“It’s tradition,” said Deets, 24, of Cochranton who was attending the 28th annual weekend festival with her boyfriend, Luke Hingl, 24, of Okeana, Ohio. “My parents have brought me since I was little.”
The annual bluegrass music festival benefits Hospice of Crawford County Inc. which provides care and quality of life for patients at the final stage of a terminal illness.
While admission to the festival is free and all musicians donate their time, Hospice holds a number of fundraisers during the festival, including 50/50 raffles and chances to win handmade quilts.
Julia Catalano of Hospice of Crawford County said the festival helps raise about $4,500 a year for the Hospice program, which expanded this year with the addition of Marquette Hospice House, a residential home near Meadville. The home can serve up to three hospice patients at a time who desire a comfortable setting, but are unable to stay in their own private homes.
“We’re grateful to all the bands who donate their time and the people who come out and have fun,” Catalano said at the festival’s opening. “You help us to provide our program throughout the community.”
It’s the chance to hear lively, live music in a less than formal setting while helping Hospice is what draws Deets and others to the festival.
“I like the music and going out to festivals,” said Deets. “It’s great seeing the bands perform and I know some of the players.”
This weekend, bluegrass musicians are found all over the hotel.
Bands take to the small stage in the great room off the lobby every half-hour, but other musicians just hold jam sessions in rooms, hallways and other areas of the hotel.
“It’s a great cause and there’s great music,” said Ken Gerrittsen of Meadville. “I like roaming the halls and hearing the bands play. If the room door is open, you can just go in and sit down and listen.”
The bluegrass festival attracts more than 20 bands that come from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, West Virginia and even Canada.
It also attracts a pretty big audience for the weekend. About 2,000 people are expected to attend over the course of Friday, today and Sunday.
Some, like Ralph and Janet Payne of Crossingville in northern Crawford County, don’t bother to go home until the festival is over.
“We’ve been coming the past three years after friends invited us,” said Ralph Payne. “We just stay at the hotel for the weekend. I like the bands and the different styles.”
“I like them all,” said Janet Payne with a smile.
You can go
The Bluegrass Festival continues today at the Days Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Vernon Township today from 1 to 11:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Admission is free, and all musicians donate their time. Donations to the festival benefit Hospice of Crawford County Inc.
The 28th annual Bluegrass Festival benefiting the Hospice of Crawford County Benevolence Fund continues today and Sunday at the Days Inn, 18360 Conneaut Lake Road, Meadville. Admission is free.
Today’s band lineup:
1 p.m. Road Apple Ridge
1:30 p.m. Keep Off the Grass
2 p.m. Grover and the Nighthawks
2:30 p.m. Grass Stains
3 p.m. Hershel Blevins & South 79
3:30 p.m. Mountain Harmony
4 p.m. Earth Angel
4:30 p.m. Sweet Clover
5 p.m. Mixed Emotions
5:30 p.m. Out of the Blue
6 p.m. Well Strung
6:30 p.m. Cow Patty
7 p.m. Backwoods Bluegrass
7:30 p.m. Midnight Drive
8 p.m. Tiger Maple
8:30 p.m. Mathison Family Pride
9 p.m. JR Miller & Bluegrass Cut-Ups
9:30 p.m. Hidden Drive
10 p.m. Greg Garing & Gem City Grass
10:30 p.m. Limited Edition
11 p.m. Boarder Ride
11:30 p.m. Full House
On Sunday, the festival closes out with gospel music from 10 to 11:30 a.m.