Bluegrass festival to celebrate music, swamplands

Date Published: 
May 12, 2017

Coastal Point • Submitted: New & Spare Fools will be performing at the Baldcypress Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, May 20.Coastal Point • Submitted: New & Spare Fools will be performing at the Baldcypress Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, May 20.The Baldcypress Bluegrass Festival, set for Saturday, May 20, celebrates not only a classic American musical genre, but also arts and crafts, food and, of course, the Great Cypress Swamp itself.

The festival will once again be held on the Roman Fisher Farm, 24558 Cypress Road, near Frankford. The event is a fundraiser for Delaware Wild Lands, which owns and manages 10,500 acres of the Great Cypress Swamp, which is the largest forest on the Delmarva Peninsula.

This year’s lineup of bands promises to bring on some serious toe-tapping: The High & Wide, Flatland Drive, Free Range, Blue Crab Crossing and New & Spare Fools (featuring Mickey Justice and Todd Smith of Such Fools, Jon Simmons and Martin Wirtz of New & Used Bluegrass and Wes Parks of No Spare Time).

This year, for the first time, the festival will have a craft vendor area. Delaware Wild Lands spokesperson Wendy Scott said festival organizers have teamed up with the Dewey Artist Collaboration, a group of artists and craftspeople who have joined together to promote the artists’ community in the area, as well as the sale of their work.

“We love partnering with other organizations,” Scott said.

The festival will also welcome woodworkers of Olivewood Artforms in Middletown, who will also be selling housewares made from trees harvested in the Great Cypress Swamp. Scott said harvesting some of the wood from the swamp is one way that DWL raises funds that are put toward sustaining the forest.

Maintaining a healthy forest, Scott said, is crucial to help increase and maintain the diversity of animals living there, and the success of the management program is evident.

“There are some animals in the swamp now that haven’t been seen in decades,” she said.

Recently, 57 bald eagles were spotted in the air in part of the swamp, Scott said.

“It’s turning into this incredibly vibrant place,” she said.

During the festival, visitors will have an opportunity to explore the swamp, with free bus tours throughout the day. Fun and educational exhibits will highlight Delaware’s connection to the Chesapeake Bay. A new “Science at Your Door” mobile laboratory will offer a chance to get up close to microscopes, plants and bottle-rockets.

Additionally, the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project will explain the battle to get rid of the invasive animal, which destroys wetlands.

Food trucks will offer a variety of foods, from pizza to ice cream. Tables will be set up in the barn, as well as outdoors, for dining. Dogfish Head and Nassau Valley Vineyards will provide beer and wine. The barn will also be the festival’s “jamming area,” so visitors are being encouraged to bring their own instruments and join in the fun.

The festival will be held rain or shine from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. The bands and seating will be under a large tent. Parking is off-site in a paved lot; shuttles will bring visitors to the festival grounds.

Tickets are available online at https://baldcypress-bluegrass-festival.eventbrite.com/, at $25 for adults and $10 for youths ages 5 to 17. Tickets will also be available at the gate for $35.