8 things to know about the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival
If you go
What: Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival
When: 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, Aug. 14 and Saturday, Aug. 15; and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16
Where: Granite Hill Camping Resort, 3340 Fairfield Road, Gettysburg
Cost: $35 for a one-day pass Thursday or Sunday, $45 for a one-day pass Friday or Saturday, $65 for a two-day pass Saturday and Sunday, $100 for a three-day pass Friday through Sunday and $125 for a four-day pass. Children under 12 with a parent are free at the gate. Children 12-16 with a parent are half-price at the gate.
Purchase tickets: Call 1-800-642-TENT.
More information: Visit gettysburgbluegrass.com
Thirty-three years ago, Herbert Wardell stumbled into the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival for the first time.
The Newark, Del., man was in the area for military training and planned to stay at the Granite Hill Camping Resort , 3340 Fairfield Road, Gettysburg. When he found out the campground would be hosting the festival on the same weekend, he reluctantly bought a ticket.
This weekend, the 80-year-old will attend the biannual event for his 65th time.
"I thought it was great (the first time)," he said. "That's why I came back. It's a good family campground, great variety and a lot of various bluegrass musical groups which a lot of the other festivals don't have."
The 71st event will bring more than 20 nationally known bluegrass artists on two stages to the campground Aug. 13-16. About 2,500 are expected to attend.
Here are eight things you should know if you go.
1. The lineup includes returning favorites and newcomers.
While some might consider multi-Grammy Award-winning act Rhonda Vincent & The Rage the headliner of the festival, event promoter Rich Winkelmann said there is no official headliner this year.
"I don't like to refer to anyone as the headliner because we have such a top-heavy lineup," Winkelmann said. "We have a reputation for bringing in a really high level of acts that most festivals either can't or don't do."
Vincent, who is one of the most frequent touring artists in the bluegrass circuit, has performed at the Gettysburg festival about 30 times, Winkelmann said. Traditional bluegrass band Dry Branch Fire Squad and contemporary bluegrass band The Seldom Scene are also returning for their 71st and 70th time, respectively.
New to the festival this year are young bands Chatham County Line and Headwaters. Other noteworthy acts include The Travelin' McCourys, Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Mountain Heart and Band of Ruhks.
2. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket.
Chairs are not provided at the festival, so you'll need to bring your own. The "chair dance" begins when the gates open at 8 a.m. on Thursday. That's when guests bring their chairs and set them up in rows in front of the stage to reserve their spot for the weekend. If you want a good seat close to the stage, make sure you arrive early. Tents and umbrellas are also permitted.
3. Bring a bathing suit.
According to Winkelmann, one of the best places to view the concert on a hot August afternoon is in the shallow end of the swimming pool with a drink in hand. From that spot, the performers will only be 50 to 100 feet away, he said.
4. Don't miss the All-Star Jam on Friday.
One-hour up-close and informal learning sessions, presented by festival performers, will be held throughout the day Thursday through Saturday on the workshop stage. If you only attend one session on the workshop stage, make sure it's the All-Star Jam, which starts between 5 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
The idea of the All-Star Jam stems from the Appalachian Mountain tradition of sitting on the porch, having a beer and "picking" strings, Winkelmann said.
"My idea was to get these top level performers to do that in an informal setting," Winkelmann said. "Get a banjo player from one band and a guitar player from another band and mix it up so that the fans get to see a lineup that they wouldn't ever have the opportunity to see."
This year's jam session includes lead vocalist and guitarist Russell Moore of IIIrd Tyme Out, mandolin player Doyle Lawson of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, fiddler Jason Carter and banjo player Rob McCoury from The Travelin' McCourys and more, Winkelmann said.
"It's become a fan favorite," he said.
5. Food and alcohol is available.
About five to seven food vendors will set up on site, offering Cajun and American cuisine and desserts. Beer and wine will also be available at the snack bar, but guests are welcome to bring their own food and drinks, including alcohol.
6. The Granite Hill Resort facility is open to all festival attendees.
All guests, even those not camping overnight, are welcome to use Granite Hills' amenities, including swimming, fishing, boating, adventure golf, tennis, arcade, sand pit and playgrounds.
7. Stay up late for the campfire jamming.
When the last band of the night finishes its set and people start to head back to their campsite, hotel or home, that's when the party gets started at Granite Hill. Festival attendees often forget about the late-night campfire jams, Winkelmann said, but they're worth sticking around for. Sometimes, people stay up all night jamming, he said.
"As the shows wind down, you can hear jamming going from all over the campground," he said. "If you've got your mandolin and you stroll into a group and want to pick, people will be very welcoming. Or if you want to listen, people will be welcoming."
Good places to find campfire jams are on Berger Hill and at the main camp, Winkelmann said.
8. The concert will be broadcast on FM radio station 106.3.
If it's raining and you don't want to sit outside, listen to the concert on the radio from your car, home or camper.