Bluegrass Festival beats rain, marks start of Fall

Photo by Elizabeth Humphreys
Photo by Elizabeth Humphreys

Andrew Ringle
Contributing Writer

Beer flowed and banjos sang as guests of all ages streamed into Hardywood Park Craft Brewery for their sixth annual Richmond Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, Sept. 8.

In defiance of the usual gloominess that comes with an overcast day, the atmosphere at Hardywood was vitalized with games, music, food and dogs.

“Hardywood’s annual Richmond Bluegrass Festival is a wonderful tradition that marks an exciting seasonal shift for us toward heartier soul-warming beers like our seasonal Farmhouse Pumpkin Saison,” said Hardywood’s marketing manager, Matt Shofner.

The event began on the “jam stage” where guests were invited to bring their instruments and play music with others in attendance.

The Hot Seats, a self-proclaimed “stringband” from Richmond, opened up the festival. The group of five has played together since 2002 and their performance at Hardywood was the most recent of their frequent hometown appearances.

Following was the River City Band, another group hailing from Richmond with instrumentation including bluegrass staples like mandolin, banjo, fiddle and bass.

The next act, Big Boss Combo, closed the series of local bluegrass groups performing at Hardywood. They were followed by the Georgia Crackers from Atlanta, Georgia and the High and Wides from Chestertown, Maryland.

Amy and John Kennedy, a Richmond couple who attended the festival at Hardywood, said they were enjoying the “food, the music and the people” on Saturday.

“I’m from Kentucky,” Amy Kennedy said. “So I’ve been listening to bluegrass my whole life. So far the bands here have been great.”

The festival closed with a performance from The New Smokey Valley Boys, a group which started in Surry County, North Carolina in the 1970s, and has since evolved through various combinations of members and instrumentation.

Although the forecast warned of scattered showers, the day persisted with an audience of family members, couples and friends. Rain tents and an indoor area were prepared in the event of heavy rainfall.

“Despite the threat of rain, we saw thousands of enthusiastic music lovers visit the brewery,” said Shofner. “The rain kept things cool and provided some awesome puddle jumping.”

Between acts, guests enjoyed beers on draft from Hardywood’s taprooms or a meal from food trucks including Smokie Joe’s BBQ, Arroz RVA, Hollywood Cheesecake, Slideways Mobile Bistro and BoDillaz.

The event closed at 10 p.m.

Those interested in future events at Hardywood can find more information at www.hardywood.com.

Photo by Elizabeth Humphreys

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