Ola Belle Reed Festival Aug. 10-11

Article Published: Aug. 2, 2012 | Modified: Aug. 12, 2012
Ola Belle Reed Festival Aug. 10-11

Old-time and Bluegrass favorites will return to the seventh annual Ola Belle Reed Festival at the Lansing Creeper Trail Park Aug. 10-11.

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The soothing and eclectic sounds of bluegrass and old-time music will again highlight the Ola Belle Reed Festival in Lansing Aug. 10 to 11.

The pickin’ and sawin’ kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday at the Lansing Creeper Trail Park, located directly behind the downtown volunteer fire department. It continues from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday.

The two-day act features a plethora of Americana music, including The Harris Brothers, Big Country Bluegrass, Elkville String Band with Wayne Henderson, The Sheets Family Band and Backporch Bluegrass.

New to the festival are The Great Smoky Mountain Bluegrass Band, Time Sawyer and Jason Harrod.
Emceeing this year’s sampling of traditional mountain music is Ashe County native and nationally syndicated producer Cindy Baucom.

“I always love coming back to Ashe County, especially to the Lansing area where my father was raised,” Baucom said. “To participate in an event dedicated to the music of Ola Belle Reed, with whom my father played and met as a child, is truly an honor.”

Nearly 10 years after her death, Reed’s influence on bluegrass music and her hometown of Lansing is still visible as the community of 150 becomes the premier destination for old-fashioned, feel-good music.

The Ola Belle Reed Festival has fostered a following that keeps both fans and notable bands returning.

“It’s getting more and more people every year,” organizer Beth Daughtry said. “Although the sponsorships and donations have gone done, the attendance has gone up. We started this event seven years ago when the economy was fairly strong, but I’m actually really pleased how it has survived. … So many longstanding concerts have been cancelled, but we have been able to maintain it. The community is really committed.”

Returning to the festival are the music and dance workshops, which will be held inside the fire department.

The Sheets Family Band will present two workshops on old-time dance and mountain harmony, Jason Harrod will present a guitar workshop, and Judy Marti is returning to instruct a clawhammer banjo session.

Daughtry said the workshops have become a mainstay at a festival because it is not only about promoting Lansing, but also promoting the music.

“The best way to do that is have these workshops where our musicians and traveling musicians can learn from each other directly,” Daughtry said. “Our goal is to have that musical exchange and pass it down.”

The festival serves as a fundraiser for Greater Lansing Area Development, a nonprofit organization whose projects include the Lansing Tech Community Center, the Creeper Trail Park and other promotions in the greater area.

While the core values of the festival and its mission have remained largely unchanged, a recent change in venue has reincorporated downtown Lansing.

Prior to relocating to the Creeper Trail Park, the festival traced its roots a short distance up the road to the old American Legion Baseball Field adjacent to the old school house.

But a grant from the North Carolina Rural Center enabled the town and GLAD to build a performance stage in the park, and the decision to move the festival to the cooler and better shaded confines seemed like a natural one.

“With the festival being at the park, it allows us to have in-town parking and the festival goers the chance to explore the town’s stores and hopefully do a little shopping,” Daughtry said.

The seventh annual Ola Belle Reed Festival takes place Aug. 10 to 11 at the Lansing Creeper Trail Park in Lansing, Ashe County. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

For more information, visit http://www.olabellefest.com.

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