Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Thursday, November 20, 2014

AZ Bluegrass at Wickenberg

Our first Bluegrass festival in Arizona and the first one we didn't have to drive hours to attend. It was great!
We had reserved a camping spot and passes in advance so pulled into our site and set up camp. 
Our friends from Salome were camping at the "penthouse" they said. We strolled over to the rodeo arena where the festival stage was set and Old Blue Sound was getting ready. A friendly Wickenberger told us where the penthouse was.  The rodeo grounds where the festival is held are located up a canyon a little ways east and north of the town. There were A and B campgrounds then various other lettered and well marked areas and far up the canyon and uphill all the way was the campground labeled "Penthouse." We decided to driving, not walking was best. There we found Dennis and Elaine Carlson and Jake and Jeannie Jacobs camped together as they had in Salome with their awnings touching and tarp wind and sun baffles held in place with clamps. We agreed to return after dinner for jamming. 

                           I think this is a kind of yucca called Yucca rigida

                                       Our site number and Airstream birdhouse.

                                 Saguaro cactus near the campground.

Dave finds a jam or a jam finds him. It all started with him playing banjo and blossomed into a great jam.  
         Jake Jacobs, Paul Smith, Gordon Acri and Dave (hat and ear).

Gordie Acri and a banjo of his own design. Yes, you are seeing angled frets up the neck and no headstock. His finger picks and thumb picks are sold by Elderly Instruments. His banjos look weird but sound good. Here.'s Dave with another Acri banjo. 

Up the hill later on for a great jam with the Penthouse gang. The night got pretty chilly and we were glad to have an extra blanket along when we got back to our camp. 

The next morning the guys from Driving Grass showed up for practice before the bluegrass band contest. 

Charlie Ray Robinson, Dave, Paul Schuler, Dennis Talbert and Rick Rhodes are Driving Bluegrass. They took third place. 

Sights in the festival area. The Fest was well attended with a parking lot full of day trippers. 

More good picking ensued on the grounds that evening with picking tents among the big rigs and three shiny Airstreams. An RV caravan group from Sun City West had a big fire pit. Many other fire pits spewed wood smoke at night. It smelled a bit like a high, dry and bare Walnut Valley Festival. 
There were food and souvenir vendors and a T shirt booth. Fancy Native American turquoise, sand painting, weaving and pottery caught my eye. Homemade ice cream and peanut butter cake got my money, though.  
   Dave in the Senior fiddle contest backed up by Laura Berry and Norm Long. He got fourth place. 

             Senior fiddle contest winners. Three classy ladies.

Dave in the banjo contest backed by Denny Carlson and Dennis Talbert.

Dave took second place in the banjo contest.

There were three professional bands who played sets between each contest. A few bands but they played a lot.
Blaine Sprouse was gracious to pose for me backstage. He played a beautiful version of Maiden's Prayer.
The Dry Branch Fire Squad played a great gospel set on Sunday morning. Ron Thomason had everyone standing and singing a hymn on the last song of their set. He did an impression of a revival preacher that was believable and funny at the same time. 
After good-byes to our new friends who we'll meet up with in Ajo or Yuma or Tucson we were on the road home. Luci is snug in her berth at the Sun Village RV lot and the Tacoma has had a much needed bath. We are home from camping until January 2015. Life is good. 

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