South Jersey is genuine farmland and in many ways feels more rural and “southern” than many places south of New Jersey. It’s a perfect setting for a gathering of blue grass and country western music aficionados.
The 43rd Annual Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival initiated in 1972 in Bear, Delaware with the help of the pioneers of bluegrass music Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe soon outgrew its Delaware location and for the last 25 years has been held in Salem County Fairgrounds near Woodstown, N.J.
Celebrated each year over the Labor Day Weekend bluegrass and country music enthusiasts come all the way from South Carolina and as far north as Maine. Carl Goldstein, radio show host at University of Delaware station and the director of the festival says all the musicians and singers are impressive in their professionalism and musicianship. “The music is roots oriented, it’s music of the people, it’s different from commercial music and has expanded a lot in recent 20 years”, hence the popularity of the festival.
There were a few surprising features to this festival. One was a musician and instrument collector, Todd Crowley and his impressive array of folk instruments. Based in Erie Pa, Todd has generously offered his collection to a hammering, bowing, plucking and blowing youngsters and few adults of his “Musical Petting Zoo” station.
Many of the visitors came well equipped for the weekend; tents, vans and an array of RVs parked on the grounds of the festival ready for a weekend full of good music, food and friendly atmosphere.