By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Other | Issue: September 2008
The Bluegrass & Chili Festival committee (L to R): Ron Lillie, Matt Mueller, Wes Miller, Tanya Andrews, Joe Kays, Dell Davis, Dale Peterson, Valerie Gunter, and Jim Atkinson.
Families, groups of friends, music-lovers and food-lovers looking for the perfect end-of-summer event, look no further! The 29th Annual Bluegrass & Chili Festival is set for September 4, 5 and 6 on the grounds of the Claremore Expo Center. The weekend of fun will include lots of scrumptious chili, countless free concerts by regional and national bluegrass acts, and much more. “This year’s festival is going to be better than ever,” says Dell Davis of the Claremore Chamber of Commerce. “We have great food, talented musicians and new events, so there will be something for everyone in the family to enjoy.”
For anyone who loves music that gets their head bobbing, toes tapping and body dancing, what could be better than a weekend of bluegrass? Thursday’s headliners are the award-winning musical acts Mountain Heart, Tony Rice and Stonehorse, performing a special reunion concert. Friday’s lineup includes International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainers of the Year The Grascals, plus the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band and IIIrd Tyme Out. The headliners for Saturday are Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, as well as festival favorites Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the Dan Tyminski Band. A number of beloved regional acts will perform the festival also: Heartland Xpress, Spring Street, Oklahoma Heartland, Rockin’ Acoustic Circus, Sixx Gunn Hill, Oklahoma Summer, Prairie Dawgs, Cross Current, Charis Music Studio, Praise Band FUMC and many more.
Other musical highlights for the event include the Junior Showcase, presented by U.S. Cellular, and the Best Country in the City Vocalist Competition, presented by Wal-Mart. The Junior Showcase is a non-competitive opportunity for young people 21 years and under to display their skills in singing, playing an instrument or dancing while providing them valuable stage exposure and experience. The Best Country in the City singing competition is for vocalists of any age to vie for a cash prize. Also, groups of country dancers and cloggers will be boogieing during the festivities, offering dance exhibitions and audience participation.
New to the festival this year is the Mid-America Ranch Rodeo, in which teams from working ranches in a four-state area compete in a variety of events: Wild Cow Milking, Team Sorting, Stray Gathering, Team Branding and Ranch Bronc Riding. Kids and adults alike will enjoy seeing real American cowboys do what they do best.
The Trade Show Market will feature craftsmen who will display for sale a wide variety of items, including jewelry, western wear, leather goods, custom saddles, arts & crafts, and more.
The committee has worked diligently to make this year’s Bluegrass & Chili Festival the best ever.
The kids will never get bored with all the free activities available at the Kiddie Korral, presented by McDonald’s and the Claremore Optimist Club. Crafts, games, face painting and other fun activities will be going on throughout the weekend.
The Open Car Show, sponsored by Sonic Drive-In of Claremore, will give attendees the chance to see some sweet rides – classic and current – and allow car owners to compete for prizes.
Numerous community outreach and hospitality events will be taking place during the festival too and will be hosted by GRDA, Air Evac, Big Country 99.5 FM, Grand Bank, Pryer Machine and Enterprise Sod Store.
The Mid-America Regional Chili Cook-Off and Salsa Competition is presented by IBC Bank, Suburban Chevrolet and Air Products and will feature several divisions for cooks to compete in. The International Chili Society Division’s winning chef will represent the festival in the World Cook-Off, and the Chili Appreciation Society International will qualify for trophies, prizes and travel money to the International Cook-Off at Terlingua. The ONG non-profit division is open to non-profit and civic organizations, schools and churches, where they will compete for a $1,000 prize. Other divisions include open and corporate. Festival attendees can purchase an official taster kit to sample the delicious award-winning chili.
The Bluegrass & Chili Festival lasts from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Onsite food and beverages will be available (no coolers are allowed), and festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs. A $5 parking fee will be charged for each vehicle.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.