Smoked Country Jam to celebrate 15 years of bluegrass

CROSS FORK — Since 2004, Smoked Country Jam has brought 225 different bands to its stages.

Over that time, thousands of festival-goers have fallen in love with the event, with many coming back year after year to enjoy the music and camaraderie of the festival. Smoked Country Jam has become the Pennsylvania Wilds premier bluegrass festival.

The 15th annual event will take place June 14 to 16 at Quiet Oaks Campground. Twenty-one national and regional performers are scheduled to play 43 hours of music throughout the three-day benefit for the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania.

The Becky Buller Band will headline Friday’s performances. Becky Buller is one of the most talented songwriters and performers in bluegrass today. She was the first person in the 27-year history of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) to ever win in both an instrumental and vocal category in the same year. She has garnered five IBMA awards in the last three years: the 2016 Fiddler and Female Vocalist along with 2015 Songwriter, Emerging Artist, and Recorded Event Of The Year for her version of Bill Monroe’s “Southern Flavor”.

Saturday’s headliner, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, is another IBMA award-winning band. Solivan has built a reputation as a monster mandolinist, and he and his band, Dirty Kitchen, have become a major festival attraction. Solivan, with banjoist Mike Munford, the 2013 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, award-winning guitarist Chris Luquette, and bassist Jeremy Middleton, simmer a bluegrass/newgrass stew from instrumental, vocal and songwriting skills so hot, they were named IBMA’s 2014 and 2016 Instrumental Group of the Year.

Several popular Smoked Country Jam performers will return this year. They include The Hillbilly Gypsies, Mama Corn, Colebrook Road, and Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers. The Lockport Drifters, a well-known local band whose members, Phil Reeder, Phil Ponish and Dale Haines, have more than 100 years of performance experience, will play its 14th festival.

The festival’s signature event is the three-day Lupus Auction, which in 14 years has raised $22,000 for the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania. Each year more than a hundred items are donated by businesses, performers, and attendees, with daily drawings.

The Pennsylvania Heritage Songwriting Contest is another event held annually at the festival. Lock Haven native David Pinelli started the PHSC in 2007, to celebrate the state of Pennsylvania, its people, places, and history in song. The top three place-winners will be invited on stage the Saturday of the festival to receive their awards and perform their winning compositions.

Bluegrass workshops and children’s activities are scheduled Friday and Saturday. A jam tent will provide a spot for those who want to get together and pick, when they are not at the stage listening to music.

The midway, sandwiched between the Quiet Oaks and Pennsylvania Wilds stages, will have 15 vendors offering food and drink, along with crafters, artisans, and merchants.

Smoked Country Jam is pet-friendly. Four-wheelers and golf carts are also allowed for attendees to travel around the 100-acre festival grounds.

Several amenities that campers will be interested in include hot showers and a newly installed dump station. Those bringing campers or RVs are reminded to fill their unit’s water tanks before coming to the festival. Quiet Oaks Campground is on a well, and filling water tanks could put a strain on the water supply.

Several ticket levels are available. Full-festival ticket holders will be able to enter the festival grounds at noon, on Wednesday, June 13. Single-day passes and a Friday/Saturday combo ticket are also available. A “tweener” ticket is for those aged 12 to 16, with children under 12 admitted free. All tickets include free field camping. Single-day campers are required to be off the grounds by 10 a.m.

Festival and ticket information can be found on the web at www.smokedcountryjam.com or by calling 570-660-0562.

Full-service camping is an additional cost and is handled by the campground. Contact Quiet Oaks Campground, phone 877-722-2674, to check on availability and make reservations.

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