Bluegrass festival makes home at Grange fairgrounds

bmilazzo@centredaily.comJuly 12, 2014 

— John Smythe grabbed his bride, Cathy, by the hand and began to dance the same dance — but to a different song — as they did on their wedding day 49 years ago.

When the two hopped out of their seats and embraced in a waltz-like sway, heads quickly turned from a performance by Goldwing Express to the paved area where the couple whirled.

Others began to follow along to an all-acoustic tune by the Branson, Mo., band.

John Smythe, a Navy veteran, and Cathy Smythe, a retired teacher from Penn Yan, N.Y., took the three-hour drive from the Finger Lakes to attend the eighth annual Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival at the Grange fairgrounds on Saturday.

The four-day event, which lasts through Sunday, features more than two dozen bluegrass singers and bands from across the country, including Rhonda Vincent.

“We’re always excited to promote bluegrass (music) and bring people out for a good time,” said promoter Ryan Frankhouser, vocalist for Remington Ryde, which will perform at 12:15 p.m. Sunday.

Frankhouser said “thousands” of people come to the festival each year — this year, from at least 16 states and Canada.

Hundreds of campers and recreational vehicles lined the grass of the fairgrounds Saturday.

Bernadette and Troy Burke, of Ashland, Ky., gathered around their RV with about a dozen others and made their own music.

Bernadette Burke grabbed a banjo, her husband took the mandolin and — along with friends and guitarists Rory Christopher and John DeVrey, and bassist Wilma Luther — jammed to their own original bluegrass number.

People from neighboring campers gathered around them in between professional acts.

“We go to a lot of these because we love the music,” Luther said.

After all, they are from the Bluegrass State, she added.

“There’s a certain camaraderie that goes with it and you can make friends from strangers,” Luther said.

The festival also included workshops and seminars with professional musicians, and a kids concert from Conlan Kerschner, Autumn & Canyon Moore, Werner Brothers and Three Creaks.

“I love the music and to do what I do, and as the event grows, we want to put that money we make back into what we’re giving back,” Frankhouser said. “If people don’t stop out, then they’re missing something really special.”

The fest will continue at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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