2009 Olympics in Grass Valley

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Another gala bluegrass event at the Hollister Festival over the weekend. The date was different this year, but the spirit of the gathering was pure GOOFY. I got to hang out with so many of my Bay Area and Santa Cruz friends, hear some terrific acts on stage and play the fiddle into the early morning hours. Oh, and the Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival also inspired an out-of-the-box idea that could transform, in a powerful and positive way, our Association’s Fathers Day Festival. It’s an idea so big, so bold and so…..big that I can barely wait to share it.

Actually, the idea came to me driving home on Sunday. I was listening to coverage of a swimming event at the Olympics, while simultaneously playing back in my mind the events of the festival when, suddenly, it hit me like a brick in the back of the head—what we need is a Bluegrass Festival Olympics! I mean, it’s a natural. Each year we bring together thousands of people at Grass Valley whose lives are centered around bluegrass, people who have spent years, decades even, mastering the various skill sets necessary to fully enjoy and flourish in a bluegrass festival environment. And there’s already a very powerful, though sub-rosa, spirit of competition at festivals; it’s just not acknowledged, and certainly not organized and exploited.

Unable to contain myself, I sent an e-mail to Mark Varner as soon as I got back to Whiskey Creek last afternoon and, sure enough, he’s on board with this. Now granted, the concept is in its embryonic stage, but just in a few back-and-forth e-mails Mark and I have already made some progress sketching out possible events. For example….

Camp Erection Event, wherein participants compete against the clock to see how fast upon festival arrival they can set up their camp, down a cold beer, tune their axe and find their first jam;

The Multi-Instrumentalist Weight Lifting event, where in contestants see how many instruments they can carry from one jam to another;

The 100 Meter Dash from Jam with Spoons, wherein…..well, you get the idea;

The 3:00 A.M. Hurdles, wherein runners traverse the tent camping only area, from one end to the other, without ever setting foot on the dirt road;

Folding Chair Placement event, wherein the iron gates at Entrance Four are flung open at the stroke of 7:00 A.M. and fifty runners, carrying four chairs each, make a dash to the audience area;

Fiddler Relays, wherein teams of four fiddlers each play a medley of tunes sharing a single bow (both speed and execution are crucial here); and finally

Speed Jam Busting, wherein competitors see how many jams they can bust in thirty minutes. (Jams must be of at least six pickers in size and must be busted to to one picker–i.e., the buster.)

We’re first to admit that, at this point, we’ve got a work in progress, but I think with just what we’ve come up with so far most folks can see the genius here. And the potential for corporate sponsorships is, well, just staggering.

Please feel free to share you own thoughts on possible Bluegrass Festival Olympics events on the CBA Message Board. And long live out-of-the-box thinking!

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