A week-long festival celebrating “old time” country music begins today in northwest Iowa.
Listen to report from Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis: pcBobWrap.mp3 :48
The 35th Annual National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival runs through Sunday at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars. Bob Everhart of Anita and his wife Sheila organize the festival – which will feature a couple of Grand Ole Opry performers on the main stage. Everhart is hoping attendance will average 3,000 to 5,000 people a day.
Country Music Hall of Famer “Whispering” Bill Anderson and Patti Page, who scored a hit with “Tennessee Waltz,” will perform this Friday and Saturday, respectively, at 8 p.m. The festival will also include a variety of performers playing music dating back to America’s first settlers. “There’s folk music, bluegrass, ragtime, blues and traditional mountain and prairie music…all of that is indictive of what our people had when they came to settle this great land,” Everhart said.
A style of singing that’s not heard much anymore will be featured on Tuesday when yodelers from as far away as Holland, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada will take the stage. “You know, it’s sort of a lost art,” Everhart said. “Elderly people may know what (yodeling) is, but young people probably wouldn’t even be able to do it. So, it’s a very interesting cross section of what America was 30 to 60 years ago.”
Throughout the year, the Everharts also bring old time country performers to the Oak Tree Opry in Anita. Everhart says they converted a small, old movie theatre into a performance center. “We’re able to keep this music alive to a sizable audience that appreciates what we’re doing,” Everhart said. The couple also manages the Pioneer Music Museum in Anita.
For more information about the festival, click here.