Labor Day weekend will sing at Mercer County Fairgrounds

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
The band Red Wine from Italy performed Friday afternoon in the Aledo Bandshell, giving the folks of Aledo a taste of the Blue Grass
Bluegrass music that is being offered is at the MC fairgrounds over Labor Day weekend.

Barnes Family Bluegrass Music Festival, Inc. hopes individuals and families choose to join in this Labor Day weekend's Sept. 3-5 bluegrass music festival at the Mercer County Fairgrounds for fun, friends, family and best of all - bluegrass music!

Bands to play

The Barnes Family Music Festival, Inc. is excited to announce the bands for the 2010 fest:

Dailey & Vincent

Red Wine

Rarely Herd

Art Stevenson & Highwater

Blue Moon Rising

Jerry Butler & The Blu-J's

The Bankester Family

Welcome Bluegrass Music Fans!

Members of Red Wine to Participate in Workshops

Red Wine will be joining,  all the way from Italy, for the Friday and Saturday shows. Be sure to stop by the Saturday morning workshops which will include Red Wine members, Martino Coppo (mandolin), Silvio Ferretti (banjo), and Maro Ferretti (guitar).

Don't miss our annual musicians' workshops during our Bluegrass Music weekend. Make your plans now to attend the Saturday morning workshops at 10 a.m. The 2010 Workshops will feature:

-- Dale Reichert on banjo

-- Stephanie Stevenson on bass

-- Bruce King on mandolin

-- Art Stevenson on guitar

-- Our own favorite Terry Dillard on fiddle

Other featured guests include Chris West, Brandon Bostic, Owen Piatt, and Tony Mowell. Bring your instrument or just pull up a chair, we look forward to seeing you!

Congratulations to Dailey & Vincent

We're very excited to have Dailey and Vincent at our festival on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. Dailey & Vincent, the reigning International Bluegrass Music Association two-time Entertainers of the Year, are also the lead 2010 IBMA award nominees, receiving 10 nominations this week including Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year and Album of the Year, for the chart-topping "Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers."

You won't want to miss this show!


    In 1972, Jim and Eleanor Barnes began their adventure and started their first Bluegrass Music Festival. The festival is the oldest active festival in the state of Illinois.

From the first year at the Ponderosa Camp ground to our 34th year at the Mercer County fairgrounds, the Lord has permitted us to keep up the tradition of the music of the rural America in the manner of which it was played from its origin in the early 1900's through to its current popular growth of the present.

Jim Barnes' first exposure to a bluegrass festival was a festival put on by Oliver and Mary Smith at the Knox County fairgrounds near Galesburg. Soon thereafter the Barnes family began monthly jam sessions at the Eagles Hall in Matherville, just to see how much interest there would be. The area was evidently hungry for the music- these jam sessions lasted several years. This venue served as a first time stage exposure for many musicians and these monthly sessions were a wonderful way to pass the long winters until the summer festival season began.

The Barnes family was becoming talented musicians in their own right, but needed a place to perform. The first Aledo festival was used as a starting point for the Bluegrass Redheads, though their first 'real' stage experience was at Drakesville, Iowa. The original name of the band was the Poverty Point Pickers, but the name gave way for obvious reasons: the hair, not the wealth!

In July of 1973, the first Bluegrass Music Weekend was held at the Ponderosa Campground near Aledo. Much local speculation accompanied the approval of the entertainment license by the Mercer County Board. (The word "festival" was not endorsed by the local populace in those times). Word of mouth publicity gave the event a slow but steady growth and in 1975 the festival was moved to the Mercer County Fairgrounds, where it is still held today. This area was much more suitable for campers as well as the locals coming out for the day. The festival hosted 10 bands the first year and we are proud to see many of the first time festival-goers still with us. We are also very proud to have helped launch some now nationally known musicians.

So what have we accomplished in over 30 years?

Simply to arrange a time and place for some really good bluegrass music and perhaps to set the launch for other up and coming musicians. For many, it's "old-home week." A family reunion of sorts.

In 1996, daughter Cathy (Wonderlich) began her official duties as the event producer. Cathy, along with the Children's Therapy Center of the Quad Cities (formerly Easter Seals) has turned the festival into a successful fund-raiser to benefit children with disabilities. This allowed Jim and Eleanor to sit back a bit, spend a bit more time visiting and even getting to listen to a whole show without being called away!

The festival continues thrive even after the passing of Jim in early 2006. In 2008 the festival became incorporated as "Barnes Family Bluegrass Music Festival, Inc." The legacy of his festival will continue for many years to come.