Sep. 22—CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — The 24th annual Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival, the city's signature two-day event that generally attracts 10,000 people, will be bringing jams once again to the area this weekend.
Organizers have made a bigger and better comeback this year after the 2020 festivities were canceled due to rising COVID-19 cases.
The show will have 13 regional bluegrass bands, over 45 craft vendors, more than a dozen food vendors, a car and bike show, children's activities, as well as a beer and wine garden. S&S Computers is the presenting sponsor for the festival.
The festival runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Stark Auditorium, 206 Broadway in Carl Junction and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Center Creek Park, 201 Valley Lane in Carl Junction. Admission and parking is free. Closer parking spots will be available for $5.
Three bands will perform indoors Friday for the jamboree — Circle S Boys, Ripplin' Creek and Po' Anna — with 10 bands playing every hour on Saturday. The event has been billed as the largest, longest running bluegrass festival in the region and has helped put Carl Junction on the map.
"It's a fun, family event, and we have something for every age, whether you like bluegrass music or not," said Cavanaugh Studyvin, executive director of the Carl Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. "You get to enjoy the talent, but you can also do holiday shopping with our craft vendors. It will have those one-of-a-kind gifts too, like local honey, quilts and merchandise from local boutiques."
This is Studyvin's first year coordinating the festival since she's been the chamber's executive director.
"A lot of people are looking forward to it," she said. "It's really grown and evolved over the last 24 years, but this year is why we wanted to do something new, which is the beer and wine garden. We wanted to be able to add more and continue to do that every year. I think this one is going to be bigger than ever because we didn't get to have one last year."
The beer and wine garden will feature local breweries and vineyards. It will be available for those 21 and up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday near the stage. It will provide tastings from Chaos Brewing Co., Flag City Brewing and Christine's Vineyard.
Admission into the beer and wine garden is free with ID. Patrons will be able to pay the vendor directly for a variety of samples.
"It was really important for me to support local businesses," Studyvin said.
There will also be more than a dozen food vendors, including Ghetto Tacos, Kings Kettle Corn and Hershey's Ice Cream, as well as those providing cotton candy and funnel cakes. This year, a local family will sell concessions to collect donations for and promote awareness of pediatric cancer.
"This festival literally started with four bands and someone made hot dogs and popcorn, but now it's evolved," Studyvin said. "People are already asking me about next year because it's the 25th anniversary."
Youngsters will even have their own play area with five inflatables, a petting zoo by Carl Junction FFA, a set of vendors and yard games. Wristbands for the bounce houses are $10 per child for unlimited bounces.
The car and bike show draws from 50 to 75 participants annually. Registration will be held Saturday morning on-site with awards distributed at 2 p.m. Car registration is $15 for one and $20 for two.
"The weather is supposed to be beautiful on Saturday — low humidity, sunny and in the 80s," Studyvin said.
No pets will be allowed, but service animals are permitted. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.