30 years of bluegrass in Stratford

STRATFORD – There was bluegrass music in the Stratford park as the annual Bluegrass Festival came to a close with five bands taking the stage Sunday afternoon.

Guests from around Iowa sat back in their lawn chairs to take in the sounds of the bluegrass musicians as each band played a 30-minute set.

Gary Ellsbury, of Ogden, was tapping his hand to the beat of the music as Bluegrass Blondies took the stage.

He said he’s been coming to the festival every year since he moved back to Iowa from Wisconsin in 2005.

“It’s a tradition and a family event,” he said. “It’s good music and we know quite a few of the people up here.”

Ellsbury added that he’s a big fan of bluegrass music.

“It’s great music and they’ve got some great quality bands,” he said. “It’s a hidden treasure we have here in Stratford.”

Nancy Baker, of Stratford, also said she comes to the festival every year.

“My favorite part is always the music,” she said. “I was raised in the mountains in Tennessee and Virginia, and bluegrass was the music my mom listened to.”

The weekend also marked a milestone for the Bluegrass Festival, which celebrated its 30th year.

Aaron Bradley, vice president of Stratford Stride, the organization that puts together the festival, said it was a great weekend.

“We’re proud of it,” Bradley said.

Though the threat of rain on Friday and Saturday may have kept some away, Bradley said not everybody was deterred from coming.

“On Friday we had some drizzle, but nobody left,” Bradley said. “Those that were here stuck around, and we weren’t rained out.”

He added that the music was really good and the people in charge of sound helped make the show even better.

“A sound man can either make or break your show,” Bradley said. “But we had very good sound this weekend.”

Everything about this year’s festival worked out very well, according to Bradley.

“I’m looking forward to the 31st year next year.”