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May 2024
Vol. 23, No. 8

Bluegrass Corner

Bluegrass Day at the Fair

by Dwight WordenJuly 2018

Great weather, great music, great times. The San Diego Bluegrass Society (SDBS) and the North San Diego County Bluegrass and Folk Club (NCBFC) have been presenting the annual Bluegrass Day at the Del Mar Fair for the past several decades. This year’s event was held on the beautiful Paddock Stage on Sunday, June 10, from 11am to 8pm.
Stage presentations included a youth performance featuring more than 50 kids sawing away on fiddle tunes and bluegrass music to the delight of their parents and grandparents, who were busy snapping away with their cell phones and cameras. The kids impressed the non-related audience as well with the caliber of their playing. Stage time also featured an array of old time fiddlers showcasing Texas fiddle-style music demonstrated an array of modern and classic fiddle tunes. There was lots of foot tapping during this performance.

A highlight of the day was the traditional Band Scramble, which is open to all ages and all abilities. Entrants wrote their names and the instrument they play on a piece of paper, and names were drawn randomly to create bands. Each band was then given 15 minutes to meet each other, pick a name, and work up two tunes to perform on stage. You had to be there to enjoy this great spectacle, with its humor and, believe it or not, some great music. Here are the band scramble winners:

Overall band winner: San Diego Sweetgrass. Members are Paul Belke and Roger Taylor (guitar), Kathleen Green (fiddle), Mary Jane Cupp and Ann Palmatier (mandolin), Charli Crissy (bass), and John Deckard (harp).

Individual winners: Female singer: Mary Jane Cupp; Male singer: Bill Livesay; Guitar: Darrell Madison; Banjo: Phil Levy; Mandolin: Mary Jane Cupp; Fiddle: Kathleen Green; Bass: Charli Crissy; Novelty: Richie Strell on harmonica; Youth: William Robinson on ukulele.

Spread throughout this fun day were seven top local bands presenting quality bluegrass concerts for those in attendance. The bands were the Lightnin’ Bugs, the Shirthouse Band, the Full Deck, High Mountain Road, the Shoreline Pickers, Sunnyside Strings, and Blue Creek.

If you missed it this year, watch for next year’s event held in June/July as part of the Del Mar Fair.

Interested in getting more involved in local bluegrass? Consider joining either the San Diego Bluegrass Society, the North San Diego County Bluegrass and Folk Club, or both. It’s only $20 for the whole family for a year to join each organization. These are both 501[c] [3] non-profits offering a variety of programs, including jam sessions, camp-outs, concerts, and lots more. The SDBS focus is countywide, with an emphasis on the downtown, South County, and East County areas, while the NCBFC’s focus is North County. Together the two groups produce the annual Summergrass Festival, held every August, as well as Bluegrass Day at the Fair. They’d love to hear from you! You can learn more about these two great local organizations on their websites. Check ‘em out, and if you like what you see, consider joining which you can do online. Here is their website info:


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