Despite weather, bluegrass fest draws crowd to Manchester
MANCHESTER — The first word that came to Jill Turpin's mind on Sunday afternoon was "gratitude."
That was how the co-founder of the Green Mountain Bluegrass & Roots Music Festival summed up the experience of the inaugural concert weekend, about five minutes after the final chord of the Grateful Dead standard "Ripple" had been played on the main stage by all the musicians who were still on the grounds, with organizers Jill and John Turpin as special guest vocalists.
"It's been amazing," Turpin said on Sunday. "I'm so thrilled that all the people weathered the storm. They were happy, they didn't complain."
Despite thunderstorms on Friday night that brought the music to a halt, the festival still drew about 1,000 people, many of whom camped on the Hunter Park grounds at Northshire Civic Center. And the Turpins, who organized and mounted the event, are already looking forward to a second festival next August, and inviting back everyone who performed.
"We'll never change this lineup, just add to it," she said.
The four-day festival featured bluegrass and Americana artists including Peter Rowan, Mipso, Donna The Buffalo, Mandolin Orange, Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull and Mile 12.
When the storm hit Friday night, organizers made the decision to honor Friday tickets on Saturday. A number of artists who weren't able to perform on Friday stuck around, most notably Peter Rowan, one of the festival's headlining performers.
But the rain wasn't finished. At about 7 a.m. on Saturday, "I was walking around the grounds, I was soaked to the bone, there was a river running through this field," Jill Turpin said. "I didn't know if we would be able to put music on the main stage."
Instead, "We were up and running by 11, because we have a killer staff and our production crew was amazing. Everyone rallied."
Fans set up folding chairs in front of the stage or in the dance tent and took in the music. Vendors, mostly from in state, sold food and drinks including beer, switchel, pizza, barbecue, shaved ice, and ramen, among other treats.
When the Turpins put together the festival, they had hoped there would be unscripted musical moments in which musicians from different bands sat in to jam with each other. "That dream was totally realized," Turpin said. "The picking that happened offstage was incredible."
The Northshire wasn't the only region where weather toyed with outdoor music this past weekend. In Watkins Glen, N.Y., the Curveball festival featuring Phish had to be canceled outright due to torrential downpours that forced a boil order on the area water supply.
Reach Journal editor Greg Sukiennik at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-490-6000.
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