Snuffy Jenkins Festival celebrates Carolina musical heritage

Published 4:09 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Snuffy Jenkins Festival Reunion, Saturday, November 7, 2009, on the Isothermal Community College campus in Spindale, NC, will celebrate the rich musical heritage of The Carolinas, and once again bring recognition to one of the most important figures in the history of bluegrass music, Snuffy Jenkins.

This years festival will be headlined by world-renowned guitarist and singer Doc Watson, traditional banjo master David Holt, and NC bluegrass banjo legend Raymond Fairchild.

Phil and Gaye Johnson and many other regional and local favorites like the Far City Boys, Dan Padgett, and Hickory Flatt will also perform during the day-long celebration.

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In particular the festival welcomes Snuffys great nephew, Phillip Jenkins of the Far City boys, and South Carolinas Lucas Family featuring Harold Lucas, who played with Snuffy in the Hired Hands band for 20 years.

Other local favorites include George Watson & Family, Generation Gap, and a veteran group from the original festival back together for the reunion; The Broad River Boys. The Dowden Sisters Band, from Asheville, NC, and Billie Constable & the Wiseman Heritage from Spruce Pine, NC are regional favorites known for authentic old-time and bluegrass music.

Dewit Snuffy Jenkins is an iconic figure among bluegrass music lovers. Snuffy, along with Smith Hammett, Rex Brooks, and Earl Scruggs pioneered the three finger banjo playing style which became the driving force and the key element in the development of the bluegrass genre.

Snuffy was also the first banjo player to be broadcast playing this unique style. All four players hailed from Rutherford and Cleveland Counties and were neighbors in the Harris and Cliffside area. A fact which led the original festival founder, Ben Humphries, to call this region The Birthplace of the Bluegrass Banjo.

Snuffy was a comedian as well, and, says Humphries, He was one of those people who made you feel better just being around them.

After the death of his wife in 1989, and Snuffys passing, Humphries decided to discontinue the annual event.

Over the years, however, he had thousands of requests and favorable expressions from original patrons and musicians who missed the festival, and several years ago, he contacted Rutherford County Arts Council Director Matthew McEnnerney about the possibility of the Arts Council continuing the festival.

We have been hard at work on details for some time now, said McEnnerney, and we believe the time is right and we have the ideal location for the festival. We have partnered with Isothermal Community College and are pleased to announce that the Snuffy Jenkins Festival will reconvene after a 20 year hiatus on Nov. 7, 2009. Special guests and honorees will include Humphries and Snuffys son, Toby Jenkins.

Food and craft vendors will be on hand, and an open jam area will be provided for musicians who want to play as well as listen.

A special selection of rare bluegrass and old time recordings from Smithsonian Folkways and other publishers will be available for that special Christmas present for the music lover. The festival will also feature historical talks regarding Snuffy Jenkins life and significance in local and national music history.

For more information visit the festival website: To purchase tickets, call The Foundation box office: (800) 874-5623, (828) 286-9990 or go to: