ELKIN — Guests were trickling into Elkin Municipal Park throughout the day Saturday for Elkin’s fourth annual Roots Music Fest. The festival started at 1 p.m and lasted until about 8:30 p.m. and attracted people from downtown Elkin all the way out to Winston-Salem and Raleigh as they came to enjoy a day of blues, bluegrass, and old traditional folk songs performed by North Carolina musicians.
“It’s been a great day,” said Sherry Berman of the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club. “It’s my first time here but I love the music. I’ve seen a lot of talent not just from the performers on stage but also local musicians just getting together to jam and sing a few tunes.”
Volunteers came out to Municipal Park early that morning to set up stands and prepare the band stage for the performances. Members of the festival committee sold raffle tickets at the information stand throughout the day for a chance to win a Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar which was awarded that evening around 7 p.m.
Heaven Scent catered for the festival, selling barbecue, hot dogs, veggie salads, and panini. While alcohol is not usually allowed at Elkin Municipal Park, guests were able to pick up bracelets from the Yadkin Rotary Club for free, allowing them to purchase beer and wine for Carolina Heritage and Skull Camp Brewery. The year was the first time alcohol vendors were allowed to cater for the event. Under the picnic shelter, local musicians got together for a jam sessions during the afternoon.
“The crowd has been pretty steady,” Jones Darnell and Jeff Taylor, the owners of Heaven Scent, said. “They’ve just been trickling in throughout the day. It’s been a relaxing day and you couldn’t have asked for better weather with just a couple of drizzles passing over. But not enough to scare anybody off.”
“This is my first time here for the festival,” said Jeff Yokel, owner of Skull Camp Brewery. “I’m glad they’re allowing alcohol at the festival this year. I think when people come to these events, especially on a nice hot day, they like to have a nice glass of wine or beer. It’s good to have them both available.”
The Root’s Music Fest has been made possible by a number of partnerships over the years. Many clubs and foundations work together each year to bring the event to light including the Yadkin Rotary Club, the veterans group, the Elkin Valley Trails, and the Elkin Presbyterian Church, according to organizers.
“Everybody that helps to put on the festival has been dedicated to the service of our community and they’re all volunteers,” said Elkin resident Dr. Bill Blackley. “I love the engaging, bright, creative people that the festival draws. I like seeing people interested in our community and making this a better place to live, work, retire and offer opportunities for everybody. Everything we do here is for the richest and the poorest person. I would like to keep that tradition going. We have a great bunch of people with a lot of grit and determination who love to enjoy life.”
Last Saturday marked the festival’s fourth year and there has been much speculation about the growth of the event in the coming years.
“It’s my first time performing here,” said performer Laurelyn Dossett. “It’s a beautiful setting with the creek, the shade trees, and the breeze. I think it’s going to grow. It’s a really sweet little festival and everybody’s really nice. The organizers take good care of their performers.”
“A lot of acoustic events have a smaller crowd but this audience is devoted. They will be here every year,” said acoustic blues and vintage tunes performer Mike “Lightnin’” Wells. “It’s also good to play at a smaller venue now and then. If you’ve been to Merlefest, you see an example of an event that may have grown too large for its venue. They pack in tight there. This is a nice relaxing festival for people who just want to come out and listen to some tunes.”
This years performances included: The United Praise from Piney Grove UMC & Wesley Chapel UMC; Paul Brown, Laurelyn Dossett, Terri McMurry & Joe Newberry; Lightnin’ Wells; Joe Thrift; Presley Barker; Jeff Little Trio; Across the Blue Ridge Radio with Paul Brown; Laurelyn Dossett; Terri McMurry; Joe Newberry; Jeff Little Trio; Big Ron Hunter and Lightnin’ Wells; Big Ron Hunter.
The sponsors for the 2016 Elkin Roots Music Fest include The Winston-Salem Foundation; the town of Elkin; the Elkin TDA; the Jonesville TDA; WalMart; Bill Blackley; Rhythm On Main Dance & Gymnastics; Bank of America; Steve and Linda Erlandson; The Reeves Theater; Parkwood Eye Center; G. Perry Jernigan DDS and Patrick B. Miller DDS; Anne McGuire; Alex Moser DDS; LifeStore Insurance; Caroline Beverley; Rosy Beverley; Bobby and Juanna Wooten; Main Street Music; Barry Carlton & Nancy Gould; Yadkin Valley General Store; and Bridge Street Pharmacy.
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.