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Mossy Oak hosting 48th Bluegrass and Gospel Music Festival
Larry Gillis shows his Clawhammer Banjo skills

Each year, the week before Memorial Day is highlighted by one of Effingham County’s largest events that is dedicated to honoring our nation’s veterans - that time has come once again.

The 48th Bluegrass and Gospel Music Festival begins tonight at 6 p.m. and runs until Sunday morning.

Visitors to the 34-acre park will enjoy bluegrass and gospel music performed live and in the traditional acoustic style, along with great vocal harmonies.

“Last May, we set an attendance record,” Doug Lanier said. “We’re expecting and preparing for what looks like another great crowd.”

Lanier, along his late sister, Rebecca Rose, and his father Allen and their family, have hosted the bluegrass and gospel music festivals on their family farm two miles out of historic Guyton since May 2002.

The award-winning Park provides more than 500 camp sites for motor homes, trailers and tents as well as ample daily visitors parking that’s handicap accessible.

Music fans who frequent the bluegrass festival circuit agree Mossy Oak Music Park in Guyton is ‘one of the best outdoor bluegrass music venues in the southeast.’

“Our great lineup of entertainers this week includes some of the very best touring bluegrass bands,” Lanier said. “They’re coming to entertain visitors from Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, and the Carolinas.”

Among the 12 bands featured this week are a number of International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) music award winners, including the Florida State Bluegrass Band, South Country Classics, A Deeper Shade of Blue, The Sometimes Later Band, Heart of Dixie Bluegrass, Grasstowne, Larry Gillis and Swampgrass, Nitro Ride Bluegrass, The Suggins Brothers, Sonya Stratton and Straight South, Kody Norris and The Watauga Mountain Boys, Recycled Grass and others.

Members of each military branch, including POWs and MIAs, will again be recognized and special guest, 91-year-old Retired U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Neal Corbin, of Rincon, will present the colors during the special ceremony that is a traditional part of every Memorial Day festival.

“We’re excited to have the excellent staff from Horton’s Restaurant in Springfield preparing and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner during the festival,” Allen Lanier said. “Their extended hours and expanded menu has become a big hit at our festivals.”

The Park has a covered theater/pavilion that seats more than 700, a large and lighted handicap accessible parking area, an on-site daily flea market, a full kitchen, playground, museum, Snack Shack, bath house with washer and dryer, vendors, dump stations, and a number of other amenities, including free “Bluegrass Bingo” from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. each day. Pets and golf carts are also welcome.

“Everything our courteous staff does is focused on making our guests feel welcome and well-entertained,” Allen Lanier said. “And again, if it’s the traditional and unique bluegrass and southern gospel music you enjoy in an alcohol and drug-free environment, then we have just the place for you. Just bring along a lawn chair, sit back and enjoy yourself.”

The five-day festival, now in its 16th year, begins with a covered dish supper at 6 p.m. tonight, followed by an “open stage” that provides local talent an opportunity to showcase their musical skills beginning at 7 p.m.

Music starts at 1 p.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

This week’s festival will conclude with a special worship service on Sunday at 9 a.m., led by Pastor Greg Bird, and a special worship music presentation from the Suggins Brothers.

Daily tickets are $20 for Thursday; $25 for Friday and Saturday or $50 for the full  five days (a $20 savings); half price for children 12-15; and children under 12 are free.

Camping with hookups is $20/$25 per night. Tent camping is $5 per night. For camping reservations, tickets and additional information call 912-772-5142 or 912-772-3467 or visit the Park on the web at