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Bluegrass Festival Returns

By Staff | Aug 19, 2015

Hillbilly Gypsies

There will be plenty of food, fun, and other festivities Friday and Saturday as the Veterans Bluegrass Festival returns to Wetzel County 4-H Grounds. The music will kick off 3 p.m., Friday when Wills Creek takes the stage. Wills Creek is following up by Backwoods Boogie Grass, 4:10-5:10 p.m.; Hillbilly Gypsies, 5:20-6:20 p.m.; Matt Efaw & RFD, 6:30-7:30 p.m.; Laurel Creek, 7:40-8:40 p.m.; Hillbilly Gypsies, 8:50-9:50 p.m., and Tharp Brothers, 10-11 p.m. Saturday’s entertainment kicks off at noon with Matt Efaw & RFD. Efaw is followed by Backwoods Boogie Grass from 1:10-2:10 p.m.; Almost Famous, 2:20-3:20 p.m.; Kevin Prater Band, 3:30-4:30 p.m.; Tharp Brothers, 4:40-5:40 p.m.. A dinner break will take place from 5:40-6:15 p.m., and Laurel Creek will start the entertainment up again at 6:15-7:15 p.m. followed by Wills Creek from 7:25-8:25 p.m. Almost Famous will follow at 8:30-9:35 p.m., and the entertainment will finish up with the Kevin Prater Band from 9:45-10:45 p.m.

The schedule for the weekend’s events, along with a history of the Bluegrass Festival, a product of theVeterans Bluegrass Association, can be found on www.veteransbluegrassfestival.com

The vision for the Veterans Bluegrass Association was born in 2005 while three of the present members were sitting in a local restaurant having coffee. The conversation turned to veteran friends and relatives in the National Cemetery at Pruntytown, as well as friends in rest and nursing homes. There was great concern amongst the trio that these heroes might be forgotten. They discussed how aged veterans no longer had living relatives to even visit them. The trio asked themselves: “Why can’t we form an organization that will raise monies to be utilized to improve veterans’ remaining time and make them know someone still cares?”

Per the Veterans Bluegrass Festival website: “From that small spark being dropped into volatile kindling there grew a searing flame which culminated in the Veterans Bluegrass Association. Words that were spoken in that very first coffee conversation developed into our mission statement. That statement is still valid today and had never been altered.”

The first festival was produced in 2006 and and the association describes that they “literally lived from hand to mouth to finance it.”

“As we collected gate money our president would take that money across the field to pay a band. We borrowed tables for our concession stands and used personal tents and cooking equipment. That first year we were like WWI pilots, ‘we flew on a wing and a prayer.’

The first three festivals were held on the Field of Dreams in Hundred. The fourth was at Mount Herman. The following two were, once again, held on the Field of Dreams. In 2012 the festival was moved to New Martinsville on the 4-H grounds.

The VBA uses their first meeting after the festival for evaluation. The group discusses what they did that worked well, what didn’t proceed as planned, any improvements to make, and the performance quality of each band. The association describes their most important question as being, “How successful was the festival in raising funds to be donated to veterans.”

The festival is held the fourth weekend in August each year at the Wetzel County 4-H Grounds in New Martinsville, West Virginia.

Current board members and officers of the VBA include the following individuals: Joe Seckman, found/president; Jerry Slayer, vice president; Vincent Tustin, sergeant-at-arms; Nando Peraldo, historian; Vanessa Mackey, secretary/treasurer; Terry Tustin, board member; Jo Ann Seckman, board member, and Thomas Sweatt, board member.