2005-09-15 / Front Page

Bluegrass and Old Timers’ festivals to be held at ECSP

Visitors are expected to flock to Elijah Clark State Park this weekend for the Fifth Annual Elijah Clark Bluegrass Festival and the 11th Annual Old Timers’ Festival.

Featuring great bluegrass musicians from Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, the jamboree is slated to run from 6 until 11 p.m. on Friday, September 16; 12 noon until 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 17; and from 12 until 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 18.

Sunday’s shows will feature bluegrass gospel music only.

The headliners for this year’s festival are J.N. and Onie Baxter of Carrollton, Georgia. The Baxters have entertained audiences throughout the Southeast, putting five decades of bluegrass music behind them. They have had a tremendous impact on bluegrass music in Georgia.

Onie began her musical career at the age of seven, but it was not until she married J.N. in 1954 that he began to take music seriously. After J.N. was drafted into the United States Army, he and Onie lived in an apartment in Harlem while he was stationed at Fort Gordon. It was there that Onie taught him to play the guitar, and they have been entertaining ever since.

In addition to opening for many of the bluegrass greats and performing at the Governor’s Mansion for Zell Miller, the Baxters were inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998. They were also featured in the November 2002 issue of “Bluegrass Unlimited” magazine.

J.N. and Onie are scheduled to perform at 3:30 p.m. and again at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Also taking the stage at the festival are J. Monroe Smith, the “Bluegrass Gentleman, who will be featured with the Etterleeroad Bluegrass and Gospel Band of Evans (Saturday and Sunday); Southern Bluegrass (Friday and Saturday); Small Town Bluegrass (Saturday and Sunday); Eryn Eubanks & the Family Fold (Sunday); the Southern Travelers (Friday); the King James 1611 Boys (Saturday); Abney Road (Saturday); Cane Creek (Saturday); the Bluegrass Confederation (Friday); Darlene & the Amicks (Friday); the Mountain Angels (Saturday); and the Old Virginia Homeplace Band (Saturday and Sunday).

In addition, there will be “banjo pulls” at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday, conducted by Paul Hopkins, owner of W-LIJ Radio in Shelbyville, Tennessee. All of the banjo pickers in the park will be on the stage at one time during these special events, sponsored by LouZee Banjo.

A large tent is being provided so the show can go on rain or shine. Guests are asked to bring lawn chairs.

Concessions, including Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Paradise B-B-Q, will be available on the premises.

There is no admission charge for the festival.

“We want to maintain this as an affordable family event in order to promote bluegrass within the ranks of the younger generations,” said Don DeClue, who organizes the festival each year. “The bands donate their time and talents to this worthy cause — we also have corporate sponsors whose contributions help make this a free event.”

He went on to express his appreciation to this year’s corporate sponsors for their support: Starling Funeral Home, Harlem; Meybohm Realtors, Augusta; Neal’s Bar-B-Q, Thomson; Cliatt Crossing, Lincolnton; Tropical Sno Hawaiian Shaved Ice, Belton, South Carolina; CSRA Camperland, Martinez; LouZee Banjo; C.D. and Shirley Morris, Harlem; Grand Rental Station, Thomson; Cushman Paint and Body, Evans; Turtle Moon Herbs, Blythe, Georgia; the Georgia Bank & Trust Company, Augusta; Paradise BB Q, Lincolnton; and Garner Auto Sales, Martinez. Likewise on Saturday, the park will sponsor its 11th Annual Old Timers’ Festival.

The event, which runs from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., will give visitors an opportunity to take a leisurely stroll down memory lane.

On display will be old trucks, antique tractors, classic cars that date back to the 1920s, and hit-and-miss engines from the 1930s and 1940s. Classic car and tractor clubs from Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina have been invited to participate in the event.

Also, park officials are inviting residents of the community to bring their old trucks and tractors, classic cars, and antique farm equipment to the park this weekend to share with other collectors.

Tractor parades and hayrides will wind their way through the park at various times during the day.

In addition to vintage vehicles, the event will likewise feature Wildlife Action’s mobile wildlife exhibit and a variety of arts and crafts including quilts and carved gourds.

And with a nod to modern times, the “Tupperware lady” will be on the scene with gift baskets and a wide assortment of the renowned plastic bowls, glasses, storage containers, and so forth.

Another reason to take part in the Old Timers’ Festival is the wonderful food. Filling out the menu are collard greens, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, and corn bread cooked by Dora Seals on a wood stove; barbecue, funnel cake, fried pork skins, onion rings, hot dogs, and hamburgers provided Paradise B-B-Q and Moss’ Barbecue; and Hawaiian Shaved Ice treats. While sampling all of the mouthwatering food, visitors to the park may enjoy tours of the Elijah Clark Museum as well as living history exhibits including basket weaving, blacksmithing, spinning, and dulcimer picking by the Garden City Strummers of Evans.

“This is an educational event that the whole family can enjoy,” said Nelson Noble, park manager. “It’s a great chance to learn about life in the ‘olden days’ — visitors can check out the ‘modern conveniences’ from days gone by while marveling at how much progress has been made in just a few short decades. We encourage everybody to come out and enjoy the fun.”

Like the bluegrass jamboree, there is no admission charge for the Old Timers’ Festival. However, visitors to the park are reminded that all Georgia state parks charge a $3 entrance fee per vehicle.

For more information about the festivals, contact Elijah Clark State Park at 1-706-359-3458.

Return to top