Bluegrass musicians Dave Van Deventer and Frazer Watkins had a chance 2004 encounter at the Watermelon Park campground in Berryville, Va., the Loudoun Times-Mirror reported.

While reminiscing about the campground’s history, Van Deventer asked the older Watkins what made the place musically special.

Watkins, a student of traditional American music, recounted that the park had, during the ‘60s and ‘70s, hosted annual legendary bluegrass and country music festivals that attracted the leading artists of the day, including Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton.

As the conversation veered into reverential tones, both were excited about the possibility of returning traditional American roots music back to the Berryville campground.

Van Deventer, known as “fiddling Dave” in the local music scene, was playing in three bluegrass/Americana bands at the time and knew he could convince fellow musicians to participate, an important start.

Watkins, who had years of experience organizing hog roast/bluegrass jams, and whose invitations were the highly coveted envy of area musicians, also felt prepared.

Within a week, Watkins obtained the permission of the Watermelon Park campground’s owner, whose family has owned the campground since the ‘30s, as well as obtaining all the necessary permits from Clarke County.

Now in its 11th year, the Watermelon Park Fest has grown steadily each season to near capacity (3,500 roots music lovers). It’s also attracting several bluegrass legends, as well as the hottest up-and-comers in Americana and traditional music.

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