Basin Bluegrass draws 2,000 fans to 26th festival
BY KATHERINE LAZARUS
BRANDON –– Even with a minimal staff, the Basin Bluegrass Festival welcomed 2,000 people and 300 campers to the campground at the end of Basin Road on Friday, July 9 through Sunday, July 11.
Campers come from all over New England to see the 13 bands that play across three days while enjoying food trucks that made fried chicken, burgers, root beer floats, and other summertime treats. There were picnic tables to eat at, and closer to the stage were lawn chairs under tents for day-listeners, while many campers pulled up low chairs to sit on the lawn and tap their feet to the music.
“The Bluegrass Festival is a wonderful event that has served as a draw to our area for years. It is certainly an important economic driver for Brandon businesses. Linda Berry is the consummate organizer who has delivered the goods once again,” said Brandon Recreation Director Bill Moore.
Freeman Corey, 59, of the Bloodroot Gap band, who has held hour-long fiddle workshops for the past three years at the Festival, said he did “a little bit of everything this year.”
“I got a last-minute call from Linda (Berry, the long-time director) that she had a band cancel and Rob and Jim (McCuen, the twin brothers in Bloodroot Gap) were available, so we asked a friend of ours, Jake Munson, to play guitar and we ran through some material quick then played Friday night and two sets on Saturday.” He also helped sell tickets at the gate and with clean-up.
The festival relies largely on volunteers, said event Director Linda Berry, 78, who does a little bit of everything as well, from greeting people at the gate to cleaning up. Berry says she’s not musically inclined but loves to listen to music, started the Basin Bluegrass Festival in 1995 with her husband Dudley, now deceased, and three other couples.
“I refuse to give up,” said Berry, who has been an integral part of the festival for the past 26 years.
The Basin Bluegrass Festival is held each year on Wyman’s field that Tracey Wyman and his son Jonathon rent out for various events and functions. “Everyone wanted to get out after being stuck home for a year,” said Berry after the three-day event had wrapped up. “A lot of people heard about it from their friends. Also, a couple festivals that would have happened earlier in the season got cancelled by the governor (because of COVID),” which sparked more interest in the Brandon-area festival.
While Corey and bandmates are local, a lot of the bands are out of town, which is the way Berry likes it. While Berry strives to bring in new bands each year to the festival, she also tries to have a few of the popular regulars return each year, such as Smokey Greene & Sons, as well as Remington Ryde and Josh Grigsby & County Line. And fans from all over flock in to hear Patrick Feinberg &the NY Traditional Grass.
The festival also draws a large crowd, Corey surmised, because “it is a nice community,” and the event is inclusive and affordable. Day tickets allow people to stay until 9 a.m. the next morning, which is nice since people play at their campers after hours.
“You can walk around and join in with different people. No one is checking wristbands or kicking people out,” Corey said about the event that culminated in three days of music, fun and mingling.