By Regina Elling
There’s an unspoken invitation for those participating in the upcoming Bluegrass and Old West Fest: Come for the Weekend, Stay for the Dream.
The weekend’s activities — including more than 19 hours of nonstop musical entertainment — promise to deliver “wholesome fun for the entire family.”
The Bluegrass and Old West Fest is the kickoff for this month’s Ramona Rodeo activities as well. Ramona Rodeo is set for May 18 through 20. Special events, including the Main Street Parade on May 19, are planned.
For Bluegrass Fest founders Rob Lewellan and Chris Anderson, the weekend represents their dreams of what the Ramona music scene can become.
“This event is not just for music lovers, but for the community of Ramona,” said Lewallen. “We’d like Ramona to become a musical destination. We want Ramona to become a stop for many things, such as music, the mural project, the wineries, the equestrian aspect, the antiques, and more.”
Part of the dream includes growing the event into something much larger.
“We would love to make Bluegrass Fest one of the largest events of its kind in the county,” said Lewellan.
Not only would everyone involved with the Bluegrass and Old West Fest love to see the event grow in terms of attendance, but bringing in more nationally known acts is at the top of the wish list.
“We would love to have two stages going non-stop the entire time, more campers, more activities for the kids, and even more vendors,” Lewellan said.
Of course, the entertainment at Bluegrass Fest is the star attraction. Well-known groups such as Bluegrass Etc, Lonesome Otis, Chris Clarke & Plow, Shirthouse Bluegrass Band, the Next Generation Band, and Orchard Thieves are among the musical lineup.
Other entertainers include Tom Hiatt and the Sundown Riders, “Captain” Jim Cooper, Judy Taylor and the Wild Oats, the Southwest Ghost Riders, the Julian Doves and Desperadoes, and Michelle Luce.
“The bands that perform here are awesome,” said Anderson. “And when they are done performing, they come sit with everyone else and play and pick and jam. That just doesn’t happen at other festivals.”
She believes that part of the excitement surrounding Bluegrass Fest — in addition to the great acts — is also due to the many hardworking people involved with bringing it all together.
“The committee members and everyone working behind the scenes are just great and we share a common goal,” said Anderson. “We all love our town and want to make sure our kids know what life in a small town is all about.”
And while Bluegrass committee members have big dreams, they have never lost sight of the ultimate goal of the event — to give back to the community.
“The whole event is nonprofit, and any money we make goes into next year’s fest,” said Lewellan. “We’d love to build it up to the point that we can make a difference in our own community by sponsoring other events and activities that continue to give back.”
Anderson added, “When you come to the Bluegrass Fest, you aren’t just coming to a concert. You are becoming a part of what is happening in Ramona. You are with your friends and family, totally relaxed and having fun — it is true social networking event.”
The Ramona Bluegrass and Old West Fest is set for May 5 and 6 at the Ramona Outdoor Community Center Pavilion, 421 Aqua Lane. Overnight tent and RV camping are available.
For ticket pricing and other information, contact Susan Jaggi at 760-789-6173 or visit ramonabluegrassfest.com.