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Waterfront park boasts Rosie’s bluegrass festival

Bethesda Bluegrass Band represents the next generation of bluegrass music. The group is scheduled to play at Rosie’s Bluegrass Festival on May 20 in Festival Park, Washington. (Contributed Photo)

Festival Park is living up to its name. Last month, Washington’s waterfront venue hosted the BoCO Music Festival. Now, right on its heels, Rosie’s Bluegrass Festival is slated for May 20.

The afternoon of bluegrass originated from a partnership between the East Carolina University Pirate Club and WNCT-FM radio station (107.9), but the name of the festival was donated by 2011’s Realtor of the Year, Rosie Lilley Smith of The Rich Company.

Event organizer Mac Hodges approached Smith about being the lead sponsor for the festival.

“Rosie’s immediate response was a resounding ‘Yes!,’” said Hodges.

The Sunday concert begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m. — picking banjos, strumming guitars and harmonizing between those times will be Bethesda Bluegrass Band, Boys from Carolina, a quartet from the Raleigh area, and Chambergrass, a duo from Greenville known for their unique take on traditional music, entwining bluegrass and classical music styles.

In many ways, Bethesda Bluegrass Band is proof of the revival of bluegrass’s popularity. The Durham-based band is young. The Hagwood brothers — Caleb (bass), Jackson (banjo) and Connor (mandolin) — along with Holly Riley (fiddle) and Virginia Groover (guitar) are carrying on the tradition of bluegrass, stepping up as the next generation of the genre while still in their teens.

“This is great weekend for music and good eastern North Carolina fellowship,” said Hodges.

Music and fellowship will be abundant that weekend: in addition to Sunday’s concert, downtown Washington’s Music in the Streets and the Beaufort County Traditional Music Association’s Tar Landing Jam near Bath will precede Rosie’s Bluegrass Festival on May 18 and May 19, respectively.

According to Hodges, Rosie’s Bluegrass Festival isn’t the last music festival on Festival Park’s agenda for the year: the sweet sounds of Motown are already in the air for fall.

Tickets to Rosie’s Bluegrass Festival may be purchased for $10 a person at Festival Park on the day of the concert or purchased beforehand at the following Washington locations: Telephone Connection, Russell’s Men Shop, Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, Beaufort County Arts Council; in Chocowinity, Crisp RV Center and Village Pawn. Food and soft-drink vendors will be on site.