PICKENS — The fifth annual Winter Bluegrass Jubilee is just around the corner and if past numbers are any indicator, this year’s Jubilee could easily boast the largest attendance to date.
Last year, the festival had around 700 people attend, up from 550 the year before and almost three times as many as the jubilee’s inaugural year.
“We’re growing,” said Young Appalachian Musician (YAM) director Betty McDaniel. “But that’s a good thing! The Winter Bluegrass Jubilee is YAM’s main fundraiser of the year and we don’t do a lot of them.”
When asked if she was concerned about the Jubilee outgrowing their current venue, McDaniel laughed.
“No, I don’t think we’re there yet,” she said. “Pickens High School is a great venue for us and we’re grateful the school has welcomed us in.
“Also, because of the way we’re set up — clinics in the classrooms, vendors in the hallways and then the concerts in the auditoriums — we’re spread out enough that there’s plenty of room. I think that auditorium can hold like 800 to 850 people alone. Plus our events are continued throughout over the course of an entire day, so it’s not like everyone is in here all at once.”
Ryan Ferrell, who was in charge the Jubilee last year, will continue on for the 2016 event as “the guy in charge.”
“He (Ferrell) did such a great job with it last year,” said McDaniel. “He knows everything there is to know concerning the Jubilee.
“We like to set ourselves apart,” McDaniel added. “A lot of these bluegrass festivals have concerts but what we want to emphasize are the workshops. There’s just not that many places that offer things like that. I think we will have 10 different workshops this year, ranging from everything from spoons to banjos.”
One of the more popular workshop sessions won’t be returning for this year though.
“We canceled our clogging workshop,” said McDaniel. “That was just bad luck. Apparently, the National Clogging Convention is that same weekend. It just didn’t work out. I’m disappointed, that’s (clogging) how I started out!”
New to the line up this year for clinics is the much anticipated “Opportunities and Trends in Education with Bluegrass Music” hosted by Eastern Tennessee State University and North Greenville University.
“This is important,” said McDaniel. “Since YAMs started in 2008, we now have kids that are graduating from high school and moving on to college. A lot of these kids don’t realize they can continue their music on a collegiate level.”
The fifth annual Winter Bluegrass Jubilee kicks off Jan. 23 at Pickens High School. Tickets are $12 with all proceeds going toward YAM and the Pickens High School Band. Youth 12 and under are admitted free.
For more information visit www.yamupstate.com or their Facebook page at facebook.com/WinterBluegrassJubilee.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.