If you like your bluegrass in the traditional, old-timey style of the legendary Bill Monroe and Doc Watson, you’ll find it at the 16th Annual Laurel Highlands Bluegrass Festival.
If you like a more progressive, modern style, you’ll find that too, promises festival organizer and emcee Jeff Bell.
“We try to strike a balance between the two with our lineup,” he says.
The festival is scheduled for June 15-16 at the Ligonier Township Fire Department fairgrounds in Waterford.
One group that Bell says he’s looking forward to hearing is the Highland Travelers.
“They’re a relatively new band, sort of a supergroup of award-winning players from other bands, so their name isn’t real well-known yet,” he says.
The Highland Travelers comprise three members from the recently disbanded, Grammy-nominated band The Boxcars and two former members of Junior Sisk’s Ramblers Choice.
In addition to their performances, the Travelers also will discuss the workings of a professional bluegrass band during a workshop at 5:45 p.m. June 16, which is included with a festival ticket.
Other groups on the bill include the Allegheny Drifters, Circa Blue, Darrell Webb Band, Hickory Bottom Band, Open Highway, Remington Ryde and South 79.
This year’s festival is dedicated to the late John Trout, longtime host of WYEP-FM’s “Traditional Ties” bluegrass show.
Trout was a festival emcee and adviser from its inception, Bell says. A Unity resident, Trout passed away in January at age 77.
The festival generally draws between 500 and 600 attendees over the weekend, Bell says, including up to 100 campers and RVs that set up on the fairgrounds.
“Some folks come as early as Wednesday afternoon,” he says, and make it a mini-vacation. Pets are welcome in the camping area.
The festival also will feature a craft show, chainsaw artist, “cow plop” contest and raffle for a handcrafted, dreadnought acoustic guitar from Eastman Guitars.
A spaghetti dinner will be available on the eve of the festival, from 4-7 p.m. June 14. A fish fry is planned for 4-7 p.m. June 15, and breakfast will be served from 8-10:30 a.m. June 16.
A concession stand will be open the evening of June 15 and beginning at noon June 16.