WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg will be hosting the inaugural Riverstomp Bluegrass Festival this weekend at the Whitley County Fairgrounds.
According to its website, the festival’s “goal and mission is to help promote and preserve Bluegrass music as well as other local and traditional music. We hope to fulfill this mission by hosting a Bluegrass festival that features local and regional acts, hosting educational music workshops for our community, and spotlighting local and traditional music history.”
The festival’s origins began when Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. approached Ben and Trisha Parker about starting a Bluegrass festival in Williamsburg. Ben, a member of the Bluegrass band Tidal Wave Road, is also a Masonic brother of White’s.
“Bluegrass is Ben’s passion,” said Trisha Parker about her husband. So when White asked the couple, she says there was no hesitation.
Ben and Trisha then sought out help from friends and community members, and quickly formed an eight-person committee. The committee went to work procuring sponsorships, and booking entertainment.
“We had to book bands, book everything that was needed for the festival grounds, have the festival grounds clear," Trisha said. "We had to do all of that… we’ve been working on this for a whole year, maybe a little over a year. So we’re really, really excited.”
With this year’s festival being Riverstomp’s first, Trisha said getting sponsorships proved to be a bit of a challenge.
“With it being something new, a lot of businesses [were] a little standoffish, which is expected,” she explained. “I mean if anybody approached you or I, and it’s something new, you’re kind of a little iffy about it. But I did have great response from local businesses.”
A few of those local businesses are helping provide free kid activities throughout Saturday.
“We will have a s’more roast, there will be free inflatables all day Saturday until dark, and then we have pumpkins that we are going to let the kids paint and color,” she said.
Trisha said the inflatables were sponsored by Mike’s Barbershop in Williamsburg. The pumpkins were provided by Rickett’s Pharmacy and Atienza Acob Medical is helping out with the s’mores.
The Riverstomp Bluegrass Festival will also provide camping to those interested.
RV hookups are available at the campground and cost $40 for the weekend. Trisha said rough camping, camping with a tent and no electricity, is free during this year’s festival.
Riverstomp’s committee chose to host this year’s festival at the Whitley County Fairgrounds because of its location and ease of access.
“We could have it anywhere we wanted to. We decided to use the festival grounds because it’s so pretty, it’s local, it fits the needs of everybody, and it’s not too far out of town. It’s very local for everybody,” she said.
The festival is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. today (Friday). The band Heidi and Ryan will close out the first day with their set to begin at 8 p.m. Festivities will kick off Saturday at 10 a.m. for the second and final day of this year’s gathering.
The cost for admission for adults is $10 per day, or $15 for a weekend pass, child admission is free.
Along with craft vendors, and local food vendors, this year’s festival will be provided entertainment by bands like Kentucky Just Us, Hwy 204, and Bobby Hamblin and the The Lawless, just to name a few.
“We’ve seen Kentucky Just Us a few times,” said Trisha. “We pulled in some local bands because we want local people.” Trisha said most of the bands are people Ben and his band have played with, or have been staples of the local Bluegrass scene for a while.
Part of the money raised from this year’s festival will be donated to the B Squad Project.
“We are sponsoring the B Squad because they help our children in the local area who desperately need help. We’re putting money back into the festival to grow it, but we also want to help the community,” said Trisha.
As far as the future, Trisha said she hopes the festival is a hit and continues on for a long time.
“I think once everybody in the area sees what we’re doing, what we are about, and that we’re family oriented they’ll get on board. We plan on growing this festival, we want it to grow into something big. We want children to understand that music is a big thing of our history, especially Bluegrass.”
The festival’s full musical lineup, and other information can be found on its website, http://riverstompbluegrassfestival.com.