The cool, crisp mornings declare without contradiction that Fall has arrived in Effingham County. And, if it’s the third week of October, citizens have become used to two other indicators verifying the season’s visit, the County Fair and the big bluegrass festival at Mossy Oak Music Park.
New citizens may have wondered why they are seeing hundreds, yes hundreds, of campers and motor homes on the highways that bring visitors on their annual trek to our pleasant part of the world. Now they know.
The 27th bluegrass and gospel music festival at Mossy Oak begins this evening at 6 p.m. with a covered dish supper and concludes at 9:30 a.m. Sunday with a worship service and gospel music special. It’s what takes place between Wednesday and Sunday that brings several thousand people back year-after-year though.
Supper is followed by the traditional “open stage” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, which allows many local and other talent the opportunity to perform at a great venue before a nearly 2,000-strong audience.
“We schedule an open stage time in every day of the festival program,” said Rebecca Rose, one of the park’s family owners and herself an accomplished musician and member of the Lonesome Whistle Band. “There are a lot of acoustic music talents that earn a living other than singing and playing music,” she added, “and this gives them an opportunity to play in public before a large crowd.
“Nearly 20 area folks will be playing open stage this week, including Buddy Wommack, Tommy Hall, Wayne Alday, and a great band called Fibergrass from Campobello, S.C., who will be showcasing their skills,” she said.
Rose’s father, Allen Lanier, spoke of how happy the family is to not only choose a worthy theme for each festival but to set aside a portion of the festival proceeds to help others who have special needs.
“This year our theme is Breast Cancer Awareness,” he said, “and the proceeds will go to fund both the work to find a cure and raise awareness.”
He admitted to us that he’s having a hard time finding “pink” bib overalls in his size.
Special space is set aside and materials distributed at festivals, which take place every April, May and October, for groups such as the American Red Cross, Habitat For Humanity, Boy Scouts of America, United Way of the Coastal Empire, American Cancer Society, the Shriners, American Legion, and others.
The park’s owners place information for businesses and services and non-profits in a thousand bags provided by the Effingham County Sanitation Department.
“These bags tell festival visitors the importance our county places on recycling and preserving our valuable landfill properties,” Lanier said. “And, they are designed as automobile litter bags. We include information about things to do and see in Effingham. You know, the Old Jail Museum and
Living Village, Patriots Park, Ebenezer, the Court House and now Mars Theater being restored, Tuckasee King, and such places.
“October is Victim Witness Program month in Effingham and up to now we’ve had more than 100 previously used cell phones donated by festival attendees,” he said.
This week’s schedule of entertainers includes Little Roy Lewis and Lizzy Long, Ralph Stanley II, Goldwing Express, Volume 5 Bluegrass Band, The Wilson Family, Grassline, Skip Ground and Rambling Grass, and the host, Lonesome Whistle Band, as well as others, including the showcase appearance by the Fibergrass Band and special performances by Tommy Hall and Wayne Alday and Friends.
The city of Guyton and Mossy Oak partner every April and October with a city-wide rummage sale down the middle of town with nearly 150 vendors. A bus takes festival visitors to and from the park to downtown.
“We have several thousand people in town for several days, and we wanted them to shop and use the services available in our county and Guyton and the Saturday rummage sale is a great way to do that,” Rose said. “Mayor Michael Garvin and the city council and staff and our county commissioners are great to work with and so supportive of our efforts our special part of Georgia with so many others. We had folks from 34 states at our May festival.”
The Mossy Oak Music Park venue has been voted one of the most beautiful, user-friendly facilities and its 34-acres has more than 500 camping sites with hookups, full kitchen facilities, a playground for the youngsters, and numerous other amenities, including a pavilion that seats 770. The alcohol-free venue has something for everyone, including an on-site Flea Market operating daily.
For camping reservations and additional information call 772-5142 or 772-3467. Camp sites are $15 and $20 per night. Daily show tickets are $20, 12-15 year olds half-price, under 12 free, and a full five-day festival ticket is still only $35.
You can visit the beautiful Music Park and reserve a camp site and purchase tickets at www.mossyoakmusicpark.com.