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Bluegrass in the Valley

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The Kootenai River Valley hosts a bluegrass festival they hope will be the first of many

There will be Bluegrass in the Kootenai Valley this summer as the Kootenai River Bluegrass Festival, the first in what’s planned to be an annual event, takes place July 18 through 20 at Troy’s riverfront Roosevelt Park.

In February, the Troy Fine Arts Council was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Department of Commerce through “Travel Montana.” The purpose of the funding is for start-up events in communities across Montana. The goal of the funding is to draw folks from outside a hundred mile radius of a community, have them visit local communities, and want to come back again. TFAC, along with seven other community organizations, received this funding.

“It’s probably the largest project that the Arts Council has taken on and we are in the process of reaching out to all Bluegrass lovers across Montana to help us make this an event that will grow every year,” reports Ralph Stever of the Arts Council. “We have nine amazing bands coming from the Pacific Northwest and as far away as Colorado.” The music will start at 4 pm on Friday July 18 and five bands will play until 10. Jackstraw from Portland and the Billy Pilgrims from Colorado will be the headliners, but every band on the venue brings something unique to the stage.”

On Saturday morning, June 19 there will be free instrument, storytelling and voice workshops from 10 until noon, a band scramble followed by all day music from 1 until 10 pm. On Sunday there will be a morning gospel hour or two, kid bluegrass showcase and three or four bands will finish the show by 3 pm. There will also be free camping at the Roosevelt Park and overflow campgrounds in town if needed. There will be food vendors selling a variety of foods from Italian, to hamburgers, to Thai food and barbecue for the entire three days. There will be Bluegrass jamming for the entire three-day event on the grounds. A list of the bands follows and more info can be found at the festival website www.krbgf.org

Legendary auto-harp/storyteller Bryan Bowers will be the MC and will also perform.

Spokane bands performing include the infamous Prairie Flyer Bluegrass Band, and Big Red Barn, which plays a mix of traditional and Newgrass. True North, from Salem, Ore., brings some of the finest harmonies in the Northwest. Rathdrum, Idaho’s own Panhandle Polecats is a five-piece family band and Portland’s Jack Straw is one of the hottest bands on the road this summer. From Colorado, enjoy Billy Pilgrim’s bluegrass and old-time country music, and from Hamilton, Mont., the Mike and Tari Conroy Band is called the “godfather of Montana bluegrass.” Plus Lincoln County’s own Sheldon Mountain Boys will be keeping the rest of the bands honest!

Each band will play at least two sets over the weekend except for Jack Straw who will close the show Friday night. There will be lots of kid friendly activities and the community of Troy hopes the family friendly environment will plant the seeds of many future Bluegrass festivals in Troy

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