Smoked Country Jam to celebrate 15 years of bluegrass

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

The 15th annual event, which has become the Pennsylvania Wilds premier bluegrass festival, will take place today through Saturday, at the Quiet Oaks Campground. 21 national and regional performers are scheduled play 43 hours of music throughout the three-day Lupus Foundation of PA benefit event.

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. And she has garnered five International Bluegrass Music 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 winning band.

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, and were named IBMA’s 2014 and 2016 Instrumental Group of the Year.

Several popular Smoked Country Jam performers include the Hillbilly Gypsies, Mama Corn, Colebrook Road and Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers. The Lockport Drifters, a local band whose members, Phil Reeder, Phil Ponish and Dale Haines, collectively have more than one hundred years of performance experience, will play their 14th festival.

The festival’s main event is the three-day Lupus Auction, which in 14 years has raised $22,000 for the Lupus Foundation of PA. Each year over 100 items are donated by businesses, performers and attendees, with daily drawings to award winners.

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 Saturday to receive their awards and perform their winning compositions.

Friday and Saturday there are bluegrass workshops and children activities scheduled. 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.

A beautiful midway, sandwiched between the Quiet Oaks and PA 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 also are allowed for attendees to travel around the 100 acre festival grounds.

Single-day passes and a Friday/Saturday combo ticket are also available. A “tweener” ticket is for those aged 12-16, 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 online, or by calling 570-660-0562.