World-class bluegrass takes center stage at Earl Scruggs Music Festival

Published 11:14 am Monday, September 4, 2023

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2nd annual event celebrates legacy of iconic bluegrass hero


MILL SPRING—Thousands of fans turned out for the second annual Earl Scruggs Music Festival at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, which kicked off September 1, for a weekend of world-class bluegrass music.

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The massive event showcased over 40 acts across three stages, including huge names like Del McCoury, Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass and Emmylou Harris. There were also workshops and classes where attendees could learn more about the history of bluegrass and the legacy of Earl Scruggs, a North Carolina native whose innovative banjo-picking style revolutionized the genre.

Music lovers came from across the country to enjoy the festival, including Drew Klein of St. Louis, Missouri.

“This is our second time at the Earl Scruggs Music Festival,” said Klien. “We love bluegrass music. We love Jerry Douglas and the bands that he had, and my wife is really looking forward to Emmylou Harris.”

Sam Clark and Jennifer Lance traveled from Apex, N.C. to attend the festival for the first time. The two were most excited to see Greensky Bluegrass, and were impressed with their first visit to the Tryon International Equestrian Center.

“We’ve been going to bluegrass festivals since about 2010, most of all we were amazed at the lineup here,” said Clark. “And we got here and this venue is just amazing!”

It wasn’t just fans who made long journeys to Polk County for the festival. Five-piece acoustic group I Draw Slow made the trek from Dublin, Ireland to perform at the event.

“We’ve been coming over [to the United States] for like eight or nine years, touring America,” said the banjo player for the group, Colin Derham. “I mean, who isn’t a fan of bluegrass?”

The Earl Scruggs Music Festival will return again next year and continue to honor the contributions that Scruggs made to music.

“All of the artists here owe so much to Earl for his example and the boundaries that he crossed,” said acclaimed dobro player and festival host Jerry Douglas. “It is really special that we can gather here, near the unique place that created him, to honor this incredible musician.”