MERRILL — The second annual Lost River Bluegrass Festival will take place at the Merrill Civic Center from July 12-14, with camping and jamming happening on site from July 8-14.
“When we retired and moved up here there was nothing really bluegrass-wise, so I decided to start something,” said Joyce Furlong, co-coordinator of the festival.
Furlong is a Reno transplant, where she was a coordinator for the Bowers Mansion Bluegrass Festival. She and other Lost River coordinator Greg Matthews are both bluegrass musicians themselves, with Furlong playing the upright bass and clawhammer banjo, and Matthews playing fiddle, guitar and harmonica.
“Southern Oregon doesn’t have any bluegrass festivals anymore,” Matthews said. “This place is just starving for stuff like that.”
Last year was the first year for the festival, and Furlong and Matthews were both pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out.
“We did very well, we broke even, which is very unusual for a first-year festival,” Furlong said. She said there were about 1000 people in attendance.
“We could not have asked for anything better,” Matthews said. “Locals came out, local sponsors came out. Everyone just hungers for this stuff.”
This year, 1,000-1,500 people are expected to make their way to the Lost River Bluegrass Festival. Included in the lineup are California bands the Blue Js, the Central Valley Boys and the Hossettes, as well as Matthews’ own band, the Stukel Mountain Stranglers.
Besides listening to bluegrass, attendees will be able to enjoy a craft and vendor fair, a quilters’ room, an instrument petting zoo and more.
Food vendors will include Mac and Cheese Steaks, and there will be a beer garden hosted by Mia and Pia’s Brewery.
There will also be plenty of time for musicians and would-be musicians to jam and make their own bluegrass music.
“People will start coming in on that Monday before and they like to sit around and they pick all week long,” Matthews said. “After the program’s over Friday night they’ll pick until two in the morning.”
Due to feedback from last year, visitors to the festival can expect more shaded areas and places for well-mannered pets. Furlong and Matthews also noted that attendees need to bring their own chairs, and to keep an eye on them.
According to Matthews, chair-hopping is just a part of bluegrass festival culture. “If nobody’s sitting in them, anyone can sit in them,” he said. “But people certainly need to bring their own chairs.”