Bluegrass & Chili Festival

Bringing the Sizzle Back to Wagoner

By: Tom Fink | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: August 2019

Popular comedy group, The Cleverlys.

Popular comedy group, The Cleverlys.

Bluegrass artists near and far have been rosining up their bows to play their fiddles hard at the upcoming Bluegrass & Chili Festival.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this September, the Bluegrass & Chili Festival is two days of live “pepper hot” music on three stages, activities, food, fun and chili in downtown Wagoner.

Where there’s the Bluegrass & Chili Festival, there is also Dell Davis.

Davis, the special events coordinator with the City of Wagoner, has been with the festival from the start, first as a volunteer, and then as its organizer.

The International Chili Society Division winning cook in the traditional red division represents the Festival in the World Cook-off in 2020 that boasts a $25,000 first prize.

The International Chili Society Division winning cook in the traditional red division represents the Festival in the World Cook-off in 2020 that boasts a $25,000 first prize.

“I’ve been with the festival every year from the very beginning except for one year – the year my twins were born, so I had sort of a legitimate reason for not being there,” Davis laughed. “We did the show 20 years in Tulsa in the very beginning, moved around, and this year will be our second (year) to be in Wagoner, and to be honest, we couldn’t be happier.

“Being here, the shows and the entertainment are downtown again, which gets us back to where we started, in a way,” she said. “People who have been coming to the festival for years, after we came to Wagoner told us that it really reminded them of when we were still in Tulsa – the downtown. There’s just something about the acoustics when the artists perform in the downtown area versus a more open area that truly enhances the sound.”

And what a sound it’s going to be.

As in previous years, the festival will be featuring a host of award-winning artists to entertain the audiences. Among the audience-pleasing headliners slated to perform are Country Music Hall of Famers Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, plus frequent festival favorites, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

Multitalented singer, songwriter and performer Rhonda Vincent also will be returning this year, with her band The Rage, as will Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out and The Edgar Loudermilk Band.

“Back by popular demand, we have the grasshiphopfusion, and the just plain funny, The Cleverlys -- their comedy and unusual music will leave audiences wanting more,” Davis said. “Add the superb talents of fiddle extraordinaire Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper this is a menu of sizzling entertainment.”

In addition to the more well-known artists, top regional bands will be entertaining on three different stages, performing a variety of music, such as country, bluegrass, gospel, classic rock, and rhythm and blues.

Further, other musical entertainment highlights will be The “Junior Showcase,” which is designed to give talented young people 21 and under stage exposure and experience in a noncompetitive showcase. As an extra incentive, an acoustic guitar will be awarded by a drawing of all the participants, and various dance groups will be kicking up their heels onstage at the festival.

But as there is bluegrass, so there is chili and the prestigious chili cookoff.

“The Mid-America Regional Chili Cook-Off is scheduled for Saturday and very much a ‘big deal,’” Davis said. “The International Chili Society Division winning cook in the traditional red division represents the Festival in the World Cook-off in 2020 that boasts a $25,000 first prize.

“The Homestyle Division winner will also travel to the World Cook-Off where they will vie for a $20,000 first prize,” she continued. “A nonprofit division is open to nonprofits, schools, churches, etc. and the winner will receive a $500 first prize. All cooking teams will compete for awards …and of course, bragging rights.”

All teams will vie for awards for best of show, the coveted “ham-manship,” open salsa honors and bragging rights for a full year. For those wanting a “taste” of the action, festival attendees can also sample the award-winning chili with the purchase of an official taster kit.

Bluegrass and chili aside, the festival will still sizzle with other family and family-friendly activities.

The Festival Street Market will include a variety of crafts, services and business showcases, while little cowboys and cowgirls can enjoy the free activities at the Kiddie Korral.

The Open Car Show will give event attendees the chance to see classic cars and modern marvel, and this year, the festival also will be hosting an antique tractor show.

“Other family fun includes inflatables and of course delicious food favorites,” Davis said. “All these family activities will add spice to the weekend of family fun.”

The festival opens at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, with one stage of entertainment and the other two stages open at 6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 7, festivities begin at 11 a.m. and continue through 11 p.m.

Coolers are not allowed, but lawn chairs are recommended.

For additional Festival information and contest applications contact the Bluegrass & Chili Festival at eat0@eau0eav0eaw0.

Hotel information, campgrounds, festival updates and a complete list of festival partners may be found at www.bluegrasschilifest.com or by calling 918-485-2554. This year’s festival is sponsored by City of Wagoner, GRDA, KOTV, Wagoner Chamber, Big Country 99.5, Downtown Wagoner and the Ft. Gibson Lake Association.

The 2019 Bluegrass & Chili Festival is a no admission fee event admission. Parking downtown may include free lots/spaces, but some may require a fee for premium parking.


Country music icon Ricky Skaggs 
will be headlining the 2019 Bluegrass & 
Chili Festival in Wagoner.

Country music icon Ricky Skaggs will be headlining the 2019 Bluegrass & Chili Festival in Wagoner.

American bluegrass singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rhonda Vincent returns to this year’s Bluegrass & Chili Festival to entertain and delight bluegrass music fans.

American bluegrass singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rhonda Vincent returns to this year’s Bluegrass & Chili Festival to entertain and delight bluegrass music fans.

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Wagoner Chamber of Commerce

For more information, contact:

City of Wagoner

(918) 485-3414
281 Church St. | Wagoner, OK



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