TUNKHANNOCK TWP. — The NEPA Bluegrass Festival draws in people from quite a distance, just ask Kay Goode.
She traveled from New Haven, Connecticut, with her husband for the seventh annual music fest at the Lazybrook Park outside Tunkhannock.
It almost earned her raffle prizes of two Korean tacos and a guitar woodcut for traveling the farthest for the weekend event. But a woman from Ontario, Canada, won.
Goode took it in stride and enjoyed the wonderful weather, the beautiful setting and the fantastic music. She praised organizer Danny Stewart for putting on top-notch program.
“These are some of the top bands in the US. For him to get them is great,” Woode said.
The Roys from Nashville, Little Roy & Lizzy and The Boxcars were on the bill for the weekend.
Stewart and his wife, Christa, organized the festival and were thrilled with the response.
“This is our best year ever,” Christa Stewart said.
She spends all year prepping for the festival and has little downtime. “I’ve already starting picking my bands for next year,” she said.
After a rough winter and a spotty spring, the sunshine and lush setting of the park along Route 6 attracted hundreds of people for three days of bluegrass music, camping and reconnecting with friends.
Familiar faces return and claim their sections of the park. Back for another year were the Philly Billies, the Bubble Heads and the Grillbillies with their tents, campers, motor homes, guitars, banjos, fiddles and mandolins for workshops and jams.
The event’s reputation is growing thanks social networking, Stewart said. “We’ve had a lot of new faces this year.”
Count the Ecenrodes among them.
They were introduced to the music through friends and had gone to a festival in Benton. The family drove up to the Wyoming County venue from Dallas. Kristyn and her husband, Shane, and their children, Camryn, 3, and Brady, 5, pitched a tent and didn’t regret it.
“I think everything about it is great,” Kristyn said, with son Brady in tow in a wagon.
“They don’t want to go home yet,” she said of her children.
The family atmosphere makes it enjoyable and the music makes it special in Dan Stewart’s opinion.
“What brings more is the high caliber bands we bring,” he said.
Little Roy & Lizzy motored up from Lincolnton, Georgia, and their band closed the festival with a 4 p.m. set.
Roy Lewis, the Little Roy half of the duo, had been up this way before, even performing in Wilkes-Barre. He’ll be in Wind Gap in the Poconos for a festival the weekend of June 13-15.
At 72, he’s a veteran, having spent almost 59 years singing gospel music with his family. The group retired in 2009, but he didn’t and joined up with Lizzy Long, who grew up a couple miles from him.
“I taught her to play,” Lewis said. On stage, she sings and plays guitar next to Lewis on banjo. They’re backed by musicians on guitar, mandolin and upright bass.
The gospel songs he sings aren’t new, but the band keeps them fresh. It motivates Lewis, whose musical lineage goes back to his father singing with a gospel quartet on the radio in 1935.
“Music just runs in my family,” Lewis said.