festival began as a dream for owner/ organizer Marty Stevens, who
bought the land in 1991 and dubbed it "Poppy Mountain"
in honor of the original owner, McKinley "Poppy" Fraley.
With help and encouragement from family and friends, including
bluegrass artist Melvin Goins, the dream became a reality with the
first festival in 1993. Since then, Poppy Mountain's reputation as
the country's premier traditional bluegrass music festival has
spread, drawing fans from all over the United States and several
foreign countries to the 1,000-acre complex.
More than 70 performers are
scheduled to appear on multiple stages this year, including such
acts as Ricky Skaggs, IIIrd Tyme Out, and The Lonesome River Band.
But perhaps what has made Poppy Mountain's festival so unique is
the wide selection of activities. Held this September 11-15, the
event has something to offer every member of the family. Bus
tours, train and antique car rides, fishing, shopping trips into
town, crafts, workshops, and raffles are samples of activities
scheduled for attendees. Bring your horse, your ATV, or your
hiking boots, and take advantage of the miles of trails laid out
over the entire mountain.
"Basically, whatever you
want to do, you'll find it here," says Tim Cahall, Poppy
Mountain's general manager. "It's just a wonderful
Boasting the largest lineup of
traditional bluegrass acts is a tall order and one that may not
have been so well-received as little as 10 years ago. The "uncool"
stigma attached to the festivals and bluegrass music in general
had taken a toll on the genre and the push to move away from the
"high lonesome" sound that bluegrass is famous for was
intense. But as American music has become more popular, including
folk, traditional country, Celtic, and jazz, traditional bluegrass
has also enjoyed a renaissance, re-emerging among favorite kinds
of music of today.
"A lot of contemporary
groups utilize drums and horns and transform rock and roll into
bluegrass, which isn't a bad thing," Cahall says. "After
all, Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, is in the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame in Cleveland. That high lonesome sound that people
have become accustomed to is very, very traditional. We've evolved
from that somewhat, but it's still the same kind of music. You can
bend the branches of bluegrass, but it still goes back to the
In addition to presenting the
music, Poppy Mountain tries to make it appealing to everyone in
the family. Owner Marty Stevens says the festival offers
activities for all ages, most at no additional cost after
"We have horseshoes,
playgrounds, and music shows just for the kids," says
Stevens. "We can teach them how to play. If they can just
pick up a banjo, we'll put 'em on the stage. I really believe that
music has a big influence on kids, and bluegrass is the right kind
of music to be teaching them."
With more than 25,000 fans
last year and attendance expected to exceed 30,000 in 2001, it's
no wonder that Governor Patton declared the third week in
September Bluegrass Music Week in Kentucky. What could be next for
"We're working on making the festival better seven
days a week," Stevens says. "It's just part of my life now, and I love
Poppy Mountain Festival Information
Information on every aspect of the Poppy Mountain
Presents the IIIrd Tyme Out Bluegrass Festival can be found by logging on to
their Web site at http://www.poppymountainbluegrass.com,
including photos, activities, lists of performers, ticketing, and lodging and
camping information, or you can call Tim Cahall or Marty Stevens at (606) 784-2277.
Keep in mind this is a large
festival and you may have to walk a long way between activities.
If you or someone in your party has a disability, is attending
with small children, or just prefers not to walk, you can use the
free shuttles or bring your own bike, ATV, or golf cart.
Staying connected to your
group is another consideration in a crowd of 25,000. Although
24-hour security will be on hand at Poppy Mountain, having
designated meeting points and equipping your group with cell
phones or walkie-talkies will greatly reduce the worry of someone