BROOKSVILLE — Local bluegrass lovers are in for a treat, and a shorter ride, as the Florida Bluegrass Classic rolls into town next week for the first time at Florida Classic Park, east of Brooksville.
Aficionados might be familiar with the annual event, which previously was known as the Roscoe Canaday Festival and had a 30-year run at the Dixieland RV Park in Waldo.
"We outgrew the venue and had to move it, which is a great problem to have, I guess," said presenter Ernie Evans of Evans Media Source. "We really landed in a nice place."
Those who take in this year's festival are sure to enjoy the amenities and the nonstop activities, following what Evans calls "a cruise ship concept."
"All the shows are under roof. There's great camping, and there's things to do every day," he said.
While the event is officially scheduled to run from Wednesday to Feb. 28, there are a few enticements for early birds.
Kicking it off Tuesday will be a free concert featuring the quick wit of Michael Reno Harrell, an award-winning, nationally renowned songwriter and storyteller who hails from the southern Appalachian Mountains. Also on the agenda that evening is a Depression-style reception featuring a Soup and Beans jam, where folks are welcome to join in the musical mix or take a turn at square dancing while sopping up soup with a slice of corn bread.
Other activities during the festival will include an "Opry style" Open Mic Radio Broadcast, a potluck supper, Bingo and a classic sing-along hosted by Greg Bird.
But the music is mostly what it's all about.
"We have entertainers coming from all over the country — national touring entertainers as well as a few regional entertainers," Evans said. "Getting this collection of performers in one venue over one weekend is rare, and we're bringing them all to Brooksville."
A "must see," he said, is Blue Highway. According to its website, the band has earned a collective 25 International Bluegrass Music Awards, six Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America Awards, one Dove Award and two Grammy nominations, plus three Grammy Awards among its members.
"They're a common name in the bluegrass world, and it's rare to have them in Florida," Evans said. "They're probably the biggest name on the roster."
Also of note: Nothin Fancy, Gary Waldrep, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, Sideline, Greg Bird and Wry Whiskey.
Wrapping it up Sunday will be the Jan Ladd Gospel Sing.
"The whole audience is either playing an instrument or singing along," Evans said. "It's music and a message, and it's really popular and a really good thing for listeners and players."
Contact Michele Miller at [email protected] Follow @MicheleMiller52.