The Bluegrass at the Gateway Festival has grown from two to four days, June 26-29, at Whitewater Valley Gateway Park, 19067 U.S. 52, Metamora.
Added bonuses this summer are “workshops people just love to come to,” an open mic night and vendors who will be selling antique and new musical instruments, leather items and band CDs, reports Candy Yurcak, president of the Whitewater Canal Byway Association, which owns the 33-acre park.
She and husband Ron Yurcak, Metamora, have planned the fest with Vernon and Kitty McIntyre, Cincinnati, of the band Appalachian Grass with the assistance of Paul Baudendistel, Metamora.
The event, sponsored by the Franklin County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission, begins with an open mic session (please see schedule). According to Yurcak, “We will choose one group from Wednesday night’s performers to play next year on the Big Stage.”
She predicts the potluck dinner will be one highlight. Campers and other attendees should bring one covered dish and/or dessert per group. “It’s just such a good social hour.”
Afterwards, the McIntyres will host an open jam session on the big deck. “Anybody who has a musical instrument and loves to play” is welcome. “I just really look forward to times like that.” The informal concert is “a way for people to meet other people and the musicians. Who knows, they might form their own musical group that night!”
Eight Tristate bands will appear. To give spectators flexibility about when to attend, two of three Friday groups will perform more than once. On Saturday, five bands each entertain twice.
In addition to performances, two workshops and one lecture are scheduled. The educational program “Strolling Through the Bluegrass” will detail its history. Mandolin and banjo players should bring their instruments, pencils and paper, recording devices and questions to those interactive workshops.
Food options are casual. During the first two days, the president recommends attendees cook over campfires or eat at local restaurants. On Friday and Saturday, the big draw will be delectable bacon burgers, made by mixing ground beef with Wisconsin applewood-aged bacon. Bluegrass fare such as ham, beans and cornbread and also chips, drinks and homemade desserts will be for sale.
Music lovers should bring lawn chairs or blankets. In case of rain, bands will perform in the museum building. Free parking is available.
Golf carts are welcome. No smoking, drinking or pets are allowed inside the concert area.
Admission is free Wednesday. Tickets escalate as activities are added: Thursday, $5; Friday, $10; and Saturday, $12. Advance tickets, available by calling the park at 765-647-2541, are $2 less.
Daily camping fees vary: full hookup (water and electricity), $30; primitive (includes shower house), $15. There are two event packages for two persons, which include camping and daily tickets: full hookup, $125; primitive, $72. The package costs $21 more for each additional person.
Before fest activities begin Wednesday-Friday, Yurcak suggests tourists use the online Whitewater Valley Scenic Byway driving guide to select area nature, history, shopping and dining destinations. Those without Internet capability can peruse and copy guide sections at the park’s visitors pavilion. On Saturday between band sets, attendees may want to make a quick trip to Brookville to enjoy Canoefest.
Why do Metamora and bluegrass go together? Yurcak observes, “There seems to be in the town of Metamora a lot of people who just love music,” including G.I. Ball, who organized the event for the past two years. “The park is such a good facility for it with the campground and big open field,” where spectators may sit to watch the stage located behind the barn.
Proceeds will be used for the operation and maintenance of the park and also WCBA promotional and educational materials, including the driving guide.
People should plan to attend because “it is going to be an incredibly relaxing weekend in a beautiful area. The music will be fantastic and the friendships developed are something you can’t get everywhere.”