Five days of bluegrass will kick off July 5 when the Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival retruns to Grange fairgrounds in Centre Hall.
The festival features 20 national acts, along with smaller, hometown groups all sharing a common stage in the hopes of bringing bluegrass music to the local masses.
“It’s just entertainment after entertainment as far as the stage show goes, and off the stage there’s jamming,” festival organizer/founder Ryan Frankhouser said. “Last year, we had tons of campers from different states and even Canada — people bring their instruments and jam all over the place.”
With traditional, modern and comedy acts, Frankhouser thinks the festival is a can’t-miss event, even for non-bluegrass fans. It’s also meant for all ages, he said.
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“We keep a very family-friendly atmosphere — there are church services and things like that,” he said. “I like to keep it where you can let your kids walk around and not have to worry. In this day and age, that’s something rare.”
Frankhouser initially started the festival to promote bluegrass as well as his own band, Remington Ryde.
“A few years into it, we were playing the festival scene, and I loved doing the promoting. So I thought, ‘you know what? I’m gonna do this,’ ” he said. “So, I started small at first. The crowd that first year was great, and I just put my heart and soul into it. Now, it’s grown to be one of the biggest bluegrass festivals on the East Coast.”
In addition to plenty of music on the main stage as well as wandering jammers, the festival will provide a program directed toward musical youths. Kids 12 and younger get into the event free, and on Thursday and Friday they’ll have workshops and practice. On Saturday, Frankhouser will bring the kids to the main stage for a performance.
“Last year was the first year we ever did that, and it was unbelievable,” he said. “The kids just tore down the house, and people exploded when they saw it. ... It was pretty amazing.”
For Frankhouser, teaching kids about bluegrass is the key to keeping his favorite musical styling alive.
“Let’s face it — most of the bluegrass crowd is older,” he said. “It’s not that the kids don’t come, but most of the audience isn’t kids. So, we try to get them involved younger and promote their talent to keep this music around years and years down the road.”
Each year that the festival has grown, Frankhouser has tried to “up the ante” as far as entertainment bookings. Performers at this year’s festival include eight-time Grammy-nominated singer Rhonda Vincent, Flatt Lonesome, Nothin’ Fancy, Little Roy & Lizzy Show, Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers and more.
“The acts that are coming through this year have raised the bar yet again for entertainment,” Frankhouser said. “I’ve added over seven more bands than I normally would have had. I think that’s going to be a major factor, and also I believe I have more ‘jammers’ coming. I believe that will help create the right type of atmosphere at the grounds as well. That’s a really important part of the whole festival.”
IF YOU GO
▪ What: Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival
▪ When: July 5-9
▪ Where: Grange fairgrounds, 169 Homan Lane, Centre Hall