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Bluegrass Festival Brings Inspiration, Instruments for the Next Generation

The Bluegrass Martins are one of several acts on the bill this weekend at the Bluegrass Music Association's festival in Franklin County. (BluegrassMartins.com)
The Bluegrass Martins are one of several acts on the bill this weekend at the Bluegrass Music Association's festival in Franklin County. (BluegrassMartins.com)
June 9, 2016

HAMPTON, Iowa - The 2nd Annual Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa Festival takes place this weekend, providing family-friendly entertainment and instruments for young people. Three days of live bluegrass music brings together and inspires people of all ages and backgrounds at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hampton.

Lori King is the Executive Director of the Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa.

"They're pretty connected, the families and friends and friends of friends," she said. "And, everybody just has that common connecting factor which is love for the music and when they get together it's just like magic happens."

Acts, which start performing tonight, include the mostly-women group Bluegrass Blondies and the award-winning Bluegrass Martins from Missouri.

As a non-profit organization, part of the Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa's mission is to enhance the involvement of young people in music. It provides people ages 8-21 who have an interest in bluegrass with musical mentors through the Play it Forward program. King said it also includes the use of instruments, free of charge.

"Guitar, fiddle, mandolin, dobro, something like that," she added. "What we do is provide that instrument and they get to use it without the parent providing the initial investment."

People in attendance are also encouraged to take part in jam sessions throughout the weekend and take advantage of free instrument workshops. But, most of all, King said it's about seeing old friends and making new ones.

"It's pretty laid back and relaxed, and not many people know a stranger," she said.

The Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa festival starts tonight at seven o'clock with live music resuming tomorrow afternoon, and then during the day and evening on Saturday.

Festival information can be found at iowabluegrassmusic.com.

Bob Kessler, Public News Service - IA