Elsewhere on the schedule, there appears to be a collection of local up-and-comers and festival favorites. (For a full line-up, see page A8.)
“We kind of set out to do three things this year,” said Bourne. “One, celebrate local musicians. We have such wonderful local musicians here, and it’s probably our favorite thing, to give them the opportunity to play on the same stage a someone like Willie Nelson.
“The second thing was to bring back the best of the best of the last 20 years. David Mayfield (of The David Mayfield Parade, one of this year’s returnees) killed it when he was here (for example). It’s what we’ve been hearing for the last for our five years of who are the favorites,” continued Bourne. “The third thing is to bring a headliner in here that would make a noticeable impact on tourism and the community.”
Bourne said that the board threw around a few options of “big name” types that MMF might be able to land and discussed the matter for a couple of months after last year’s festival. But it was decided that Nelson would ultimately have “the biggest impact” and appeal the most to local audiences.
Bourne praised the “great vibe” she’s gotten, and the excitement surrounding the announcement of the line-up. There’s more money to be raised, still (Nelson cost “substantially more” than what MMF usually pays for headliners, noted Bourne), but organizers feel the community is ready to get fully behind the festival.
“It warmed our hearts” to see those who came out for the reveal last week, said Bourne. “The last few years, we’ve been building that community spirit. They want to see us succeed.”
Other special recognitions of the festival’s history include Tommy Minton as the 20th birthday Master Musician (Bourne noted that festival lore has its origins in an attempt to raise money to buy Minton a new guitar), and honoring founder Gabrielle Gray, now the executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky.
The festival will be held this year on Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20, behind Somerset Community College.
There’s a lot to do, but Bourne credits the “strong working board” with being able to pull it off.
“The board has been working up to this, knowing the 20th anniversary is coming,” she said. “It’s all panning out the way we hoped it would.”