OWENSBORO, Ky. (5/28/13) – In about 30 days, one of if not the biggest bluegrass music festival in the region will descend on the city of Owensboro with acts such as Merle Haggard, Giving Tree Band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Punch Brothers, and many more.
Chris Langdon with the International Bluegrass Music Museum, who puts on the ROMP festival each year as a fundraiser for the museum, said organizers this year are anticipating as many as 30,000 attendees, the most the festival has ever had.
Of course, the weather will play a large part in determining how many actually turn out for the late June event, as it did last year. Langdon said the weekend of ROMP last year, the weather kept many people away, and noted that some who have said they plan to attend are waiting to buy tickets until closer to the weekend of the event, June 27 through June 29.
Langdon said the festival is meant to appeal to two distinct audiences: the senior citizen-age crowd who enjoy traditional bluegrass, and the younger, college age crowd who prefer the “up-and-coming” style of bluegrass music.
“When you think of bluegrass, you think of your grandparents sitting around with their shoes off,” Langdon said. “With some of the current bands we have coming, we’re bringing bluegrass music to a whole new generation. Merle Haggard provides big-name recognition, but performers like David Grisman and Leftover Salmon are a draw for the college age group.”
“Any time we can introduce kids to bluegrass music, we want to do that,” he added.
Langdon said over the years, the festival has worked to offer additional attractions for the public as well.
“Every year we strive to find something different,” he said, noting this year’s ROMP will include arts and crafts booths, handmade craft items, and an opportunity for children to participate in activities like making masks.
“We want to focus on this being ‘family friendly,’” he said. “We want people to know they can come and party and have a good time, but we don’t want to drive families away. We want to celebrate this as a place people can come and enjoy bluegrass.”
Activities for children to take part in isn’t the only way people can interact during the various activities and performances. Langdon said organizers invite guests at the festival to bring their own instruments and “join in” with the bands.
Of course, the purpose of the event is to help raise money for the Owensboro Bluegrass Museum, and this year the funds generated will help the organization reach a $10 million goal for the construction of a new International Bluegrass Facility currently under construction. Langdon said the city has pledged to match up to $3 million of the funds raised, leaving the organization needing $7 million to cover its costs.
“This is… the biggest one of the year,” Langdon said when discussing the fundraising aspect of ROMP.
For more information about this year’s festival, visit www.rompfest.com.
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