Smokey Greene performs while a child joins him on stage during the 2012 Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival in North Creek.
Organizers of the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival will celebrate their 10th anniversary this year with 10 bands on Aug. 16-18 at the Ski Bowl Park.
As with most bluegrass festivals, the bulk of the attendees will be camping at the event, and the Ski Bowl can accommodate up to about 220 sites. Last year, with the festival being scaled back to three days instead of four, fewer campers showed up, but co-organizer Lloyd Burch is optimistic more will find their way to North Creek and they’ll have upwards of 180 campers this year. Festival board members will be looking for ways to add another day to next years’s schedule, which could entice more festival-goers.
For now, plans for the 10th anniversary celebration is well under way, and many bands are new to the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival.
Past favorite Vern Young, who had originally signed up, won’t be able to make it this year due to health issues. In his place will be the Seth Sawyer Band, of the Green Mountain State. Sawyer and his wife, Candi, organize the Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival in Tunbridge, Vt. every June.
The other bands will be: Audie Blaylock & Redline, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, the Spinney Brothers, Smokey Greene, the Katahdin Valley Boys, HoneyGrass, Washington County Line, Beartracks, and Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters.
Smokey Green, by the way, is the only performer to appear on the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival stage for all 10 years.
Friday will feature an “open stage” set from 5:15 to 6 p.m.
Performances will be held from noon to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, 9 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18.
In 2004, Joel Beaudin and Rusty Leigh founded the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival, according to Burch.
“Joel was looking to sponsor an annual event for the community that would showcase the North Creek area while making enough income to support local individuals and organizations, through donations,” Burch said “Rusty Leigh had long traveled the bluegrass circuit, developing many connections and contacts with the entertainers and fans, dreaming that one day a bluegrass festival might find a home in his community.”
Thus the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival was born. First they needed a location: the Ski Bowl Park. Then they needed a stage, so they hurried up and built one.
“Some might remember that the stage for the fledgling first festival wasn’t quite complete,” Burch said. “A newly formed band, named Acoustic Blue, was performing that first evening when it started to rain. While the band performed, Joel and Rusty created a plastic shelter over the stage, saving the day.”
Burch says much has changed in the past 10 years. The group — Upper Hudson Festivals, Inc. — is now a 501-c-3 not-for-profit organization and gives back to the community and school. Organizers have continued to improve the stage, which normally lives at Riverfront Park and is used during other events throughout the year. The festival now has its own branding, with a logo, hats and T-shirts. And the board works with town leaders and state health officials to improve the Ski Bowl facilities.
The festival include a selection of vendors for souvenirs and food. Sound will be provided by Green Mountain Music, Pete and Cora Bolster. Don Sprague will be returning as the emcee. The media sponsor is NCPR.
And, best of all, people don’t have to camp in order to enjoy the festival. Day tickets are available: $25pp Friday, $30 Saturday and $15 Sunday. Also, it’s only $15pp each evening after 5 p.m. Kids 15 and under are free with a parent.
Three-day tickets, purchased in advance, are $50pp before Aug. 9 or $60pp at the gate. Three-day tickets include camper parking, fresh water fill-up, and a “for extra fee” pump out Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. Please call for specific camper parking information.
To purchase advance tickets, send a check and an SASE to Upper Hudson Festivals, Inc., P. O. Box 276, North Creek, NY, 12853. For complete information, visit online at www.upperhudsonbluegrassfestival or call (518)-251-3141.