Finger Pickin' Good

Death, O Death spared me over for another year now I can attend the ninth annual Buckeye Bluegrass Festival. The popular three-day event at Pat and Dale Parker's Eagle Mountain Ranch will feature a revue of 20 bands, headlined by rising bluegrass stars.

The members of Goldwing Express from Branson, Missouri, describe themselves as "Three Indians and a White Man." The three Native American brothers and their dad cut up onstage in a Branson-style comedy act between songs.

Sharing top billing is the Cherryholmes Family. Mom, Pop and four buck-dancing, twin-fiddling, banjo-picking offspring stole the show at last summer's Prescott bluegrass fest. The ovations didn't stop until they begged off, exhausted.

Between performances, patrons can shop for jewelry, crafts, and, of course, festival tee shirts. In addition, down-home vendors will offer a mess o' vittles typical fair fare like hot dogs, hamburgers, fry bread and barbecue.

Whether you go for the day or the weekend, take the young 'uns. There'll be plenty to amuse the kids: puppet shows, craft sessions and even music workshops that prepare youngsters for a special stage performance on Sunday. And don't forget Nickels in the Haystack, a country game created by Pa so he could chase Ma around the farmhouse.

The festival also includes an optional giant campout think Hillbilly Thunder. Last year the ranch hosted 310 RVs, with room for more. Ranch owner Dale Parker looks most forward to the nighttime jam sessions. Stroll with him under a splatter of stars and hear the nicker of horses, the snap and pop of the campfires, and the high-lonesome sound of bluegrass.