It was in a place like White Oak Mountain — tucked away a few miles off the highway in Danville, Va. — that bluegrass music was born.
So it’s fitting the White Oak Mountain Amphitheater and Family Campground is going to be home to a new bluegrass festival coming July 20-21, GoDanRiver.com reported.
The campground’s vast 125 acres seems secluded from the rest of the world, but it is only about two miles from U.S. 29 in Blairs. The owner, Carson Lester, has had concerts before — about a decade ago – and has always wanted to bring back music to echo through the hills.
“We want to bring all the people together to hear some gospel and some bluegrass music,” said Lester. The festival lineup includes Dave Leatherman and Stone County from RFD TV’s Cumberland Highlander’s Show from Nashville, Tenn., Jeff Michael and the Carolina Grass Band, Montgomery and Company of Gold Hill, N.C., and local favorites Mike Jones of Eden, N.C., and Richard’s Jam, a local group of musicians who gather in nearby Blairs on Mondays for some toe-tapping bluegrass sessions.
The amphitheater and campground are somewhat of Lester’s “field of dreams” since it sits in the middle of the farmland that once produced rows of tobacco. Now, Lester wants to bring the stage back to life.
“I just came in by chance, but there is no real chance with God,” said Teresa Cooper. “He just sends you there and it’s all for a reason even if you aren’t sure what it is.”
Cooper travels across the country for work in her camper and stayed on the campground this year. A bluegrass fan and a picker herself, she thought the area would be perfect for a festival and contacted Vivian Hopkins of Gold Hill, N.C., who organizes bluegrass festivals and concerts with her husband. This was just the contact Lester needed to bring the camp back to life.
So they got to work to bring the first bluegrass festival to the campground. Bluegrass is a music with deep roots in Virginia. It’s a tradition to hear for a lot of people and very family friendly, much like gospel. Hopkins helps to organize festivals like this to keep that tradition alive and spread the love of the bluegrass sound to younger generations — many of which are beginning to catch on to “newgrass” bluegrass.
Going to bluegrass festivals and listening to its light, danceable melodies is something Hopkins became accustomed to by her family. So her work has become a passion.
“It was something I grew up with,” said Hopkins. “It’s just a way of life for us. We would camp and pick ‘til all hours of the night.”
Visitors of the bluegrass festival at White Oak Mountain will be allowed to camp as well. The performer’s stage is nestled around the campground so people can rest in their campers or tents and still hear the music. Organizers are trying to get some tents set up, but people are welcome to bring their lawn chairs and umbrellas for the event. Lester would also like to get area churches to come out since the festival is very family friendly.
There won’t just be bluegrass at the bluegrass festival, there will be food vendors and a playground for children.
The shows on July 20 are from 5 to 10 p.m. and tickets are $10. Shows on Saturday are from noon to 11 p.m. and tickets are $20. People 15 and under are free. There will be a free show on July 19 beginning at 6 p.m. with a potluck meal to gear everyone up.
Organizers hope this can be reoccurring event of different musical guests and help provide some entertainment for local youth.
For more information, call (434) 728-6500 and join the Facebook group White Oak Mountain Amphitheater & Family Campground. The camp is located at 599 Carson Lester Lane in Danville.