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Published: Monday, 1/13/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

Annual Perrysburg music festival draws hundreds to fiddle around

Bluegrass bands hit the right notes

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Idletyme performs during the Winterfest Bluegrass and Super Class festival. The band was one of 10 — along with headliner Rhonda Vincent — to whip up some hooting and hollering in Perrysburg. Idletyme performs during the Winterfest Bluegrass and Super Class festival. The band was one of 10 — along with headliner Rhonda Vincent — to whip up some hooting and hollering in Perrysburg.
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Musicians strumming bluegrass tunes on banjos, fiddles, large bass fiddles, and guitars led to clapping, hooting, and hollering over the weekend at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg.

It’s a typical response for the Winterfest Bluegrass and Super Class festival, which has been held locally in early January every year since 1990. While the music brings people in, the people and friends keep them coming back, according to many who participate or attend the event.

That “family” includes band members from Canada, Michigan, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

“The common denominator for everyone here is music, but the fellowship side and social side — it is like a family reunion every year,” said Charlie Patton, who has been the festival’s emcee for 23 years. “It is a heartfelt feeling knowing the people; the music is heartfelt too.”

Each of the 10 bands performed two hour-long shows for one of the two days. The festival went from 1 p.m. to about 11:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

The headline performer was Rhonda Vincent and The Rage out of Nashville. Ms. Vincent is an International Bluegrass Music Association six-time winner of the Female Vocalist of the Year.

Bill Monroe, the “Father of Bluegrass,” performed in the festival’s first year in 1990.

Larry Efaw of Akron has been the event director for the last five years but also has performed in it every year.

Saturday he took the stage as the lead singer of the Bluegrass Mountaineers — also from Akron.

“The crowd here is very lively and appreciative, it makes it enjoyable and good sound,” he said. “When I book bands I’m proud to see people following them out to talk, buy their stuff, get autographs, ask when they’ll be back.

Tom and Patty Biller of Findlay listen as Idletyme performs at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg at the annual bluegrass festival. Organizers say the festival usually sells out of its 500 tickets per day as it draws music lovers and bluegrass bands from all over. Tom and Patty Biller of Findlay listen as Idletyme performs at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg at the annual bluegrass festival. Organizers say the festival usually sells out of its 500 tickets per day as it draws music lovers and bluegrass bands from all over.
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“That does me good.”

The festival usually sells out of its 500 tickets each day, and this year 299 hotel rooms were booked too, organizers said.

Mr. Efaw and Mr. Patton said the group is one big family. One year in the late 1990s the festival moved to a hotel in Toledo, but Mr. Patton said everyone was “homesick” and they have had it at the French Quarter ever since.

“I still went to it,” said Gloria King, director of catering at the French Quarter. “I stayed in the back since I was at another hotel.”

Stacy Wilcox and his wife, Becky, said they met at the festival 11 years ago. Mr. Wilcox was playing in the David Parmely and Continental Divide band from Kentucky, and Ms. Wilcox had gone to the festival since she was 5 years old.

The couple have been married for 10 years and have three children — who all scream in excitement when they arrive in Perrysburg for the festival from their home in Akron.

“You can thank bluegrass for it,” Ms. Wilcox said of her family. “It is like a family reunion here, everyone knows everyone.”

The 2015 bluegrass festival is already nearly booked with nine bands, and of course Mr. Patton said he will be back to emcee.

“I leave the festival every year and say to my wife, ‘that was the best one,’ ” Mr. Patton said.



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