Music festival appeal spans generations

Music lovers may fill Watermelon Park Campground to its maximum capacity for the Watermelon Park Festival that is now underway through Sunday.

This is the 12th year for the acoustic music festival, where attendees can hear their fill of bluegrass, jazz, Americana, folk and gypsy jazz at the Watermelon Park by the Shenandoah River in Berryville.

Event organizer Frazer Watkins said being able to feature a performance by headliner Loretta Lynn – who he said had probably played at Watermelon Park in the ’60s and ’70s – hearkens back to a bygone era of music festivals.

“She came from the time when country parks (were) like Watermelon Park … that was how it was done,” he said.

Sunday will bring a Gospel extravaganza in memory of Maggie Ingram, who performed to festival audiences last year as matriarch of the Richmond-based Ingramettes . She passed away this year.

Other performances will include those from Japanese bluegrass group The Nessie Expedition, Hot Rize, Pokey Lafarge, and 2014 band contest winners Colebrook Road, which opened up the festival Thursday evening.

Kids can get crafty during events at the kid’s tent and at the Watermelon Boat Float on Saturday, an event that Watkins said is quickly becoming a favorite.

“It started out with about 20 people building little watermelon boats and floating them in the river – and last year there must have been 150 boats,” he said. “It was really neat to see the festival had grown to a point where there was all this enthusiasm and the kids were having fun.”

Last year’s attendance numbers reached around 3,000, and Watkins said he hopes that the festival will finally reach the 3,500 capacity after years of inching closer.

In addition to music and kid’s activities, there will be yoga sessions at the campground and attendees can stop by various food and craft vendor tents near the stage.

Watkins said some children who attended in 2004 have become active participating musicians in the festival, while children who weren’t even born yet have gotten started with summer band camps.

“We’ve actually incorporated three generations of folks actively into the festival,” he said. “We try to mix it up. It’s not all young and its not all old. We’re middle-aged people so we have a lot to draw from.”

IF YOUR GO: Gate admission wristbands range from $70 to $120 depending on the days attending. Camping and admission for children 12 years and younger are free, and car day parking is $10 at the campground.


Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or

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