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Wednesday, 16 August 2006 00:00

TrueBlueGrass: 24th annual Cherokee Bluegrass Festival draws on traditional roots

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By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

For the past 24 years, crowds have gathered at Happy Holiday Campground in Cherokee for the annual Cherokee Bluegrass Festival.

The RV campground, with its 400 campsites, packs in a regular crowd who come from as far away as Michigan, Florida and Ohio each year.

“We’re full all the time, we’re packed,” said campground manager Dee Robertson. “People that’s been coming for years, they get their same site year after year.”

It’s no wonder why. The bluegrass festival draws some of the biggest names in the business. This year’s roster includes the International Bluegrass Music Association’s male vocalist of the year Larry Sparks; female vocalist of the year Rhonda Vincent; entertainers of the year Cherryholmes; winners of the best recorded gospel performance and vocal group of the year, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver; and emerging artists of the year The Grascals.

“The fans do all that voting, and we try to bring who the fans want to see,” said Norman Adams, promoter and booking agent for Adams and Anderson LLC, which puts on the Cherokee festival.

In addition to the IMBA winners, the festival also features the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America’s traditional male vocalist of the year The James King Band alongside Grammy-winners Ralph Stanley and Del McCoury and local favorites such as Raymond Fairchild and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

Adams and Anderson puts on several bluegrass festivals throughout the region, including in Myrtle Beach and Jekyll Island. What makes the Cherokee festival stand out is the audience’s appreciation for true bluegrass.

“The people here really love, I guess you’d say, hardcore bluegrass,” Adams said. “They don’t want none of this progressive stuff.”

No, audience members won’t find any glitzy, over-produced country music here. But they will get to hear material such as new tunes from Vincent’s recently released All American Bluegrass Girl, which blends the multi-talented singer, songwriter and musician’s modern take on bluegrass with classic elements. The album features Bobby Osborne, also set to appear at the Cherokee festival, which sets the stage for a potential live duet.

Next year will mark the festival’s 25th anniversary; however, Adams said that, at least for now, no special plans are in the works to commemorate the event.

“Every year’s big plans,” he said.

The Cherokee festival is designed to be a family friendly event with concessions, a lake for fishing and restrooms. The show goes on rain or shine.

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