Snapshots: Watermelon Park Festival @ Clarke County Fairgrounds (Berryville, VA) — 9/20-9/23/18

Watermelon Park Festival

Marty Stuart and Watermelon Park owner John Miller Jr. at the Watermelon Park Festival in September 2018. (Photo by Chester Simpson)

Watermelon Park, located in Berryville, Virginia, on the banks of the Shenandoah River, is a local haven for camping, tubing and kayaking all summer long. It hosted the 15th annual Watermelon Park Festival recently, and we’ve got pictures of the performing bands to prove it!

One day in 2002, Frazer Watkins and his friend David Van Deventer were walking Dave’s dog along the Shenandoah River at Watermelon Park. Dave asked about the early bluegrass festivals that had taken place there in the ’60s thru the ’70s and wondered if it could happen again.

So a year later they asked Mr. John Miller Jr., the owner of Watermelon Park, if they could hold music festivals there again. Mr. Miller said if the city okayed it they could do it.

They started Shepherds Ford Productions and resurrected the idea of hosting a country and bluegrass music festival at the park, which would bring back some of the artists who performed at the original festival.

Their first bluegrass festival started in 2004 for about 100 people. That year, the river flooded and they had to move it to higher ground on the hill across from the river.

The Watermelon Park Fest is once again became an annual gathering of the nation’s finest bluegrass, country, and Americana musicians, attracting 3,000 guests a year, a devoted following of folks they consider family.

Now in its 15th year, the river flooded days before the start of the festival on Sept 20-23. With the help of friends and families that work the festival and the city of Berryville, they moved it to the Clarke County Fairgrounds.

“We have a whole family that comes here every year to put on this festival Frazer Watkins said. “It’s special and we couldn’t do all this without them.”

This year’s Friday to Sundays line-up included local and nationally known musicians like Johnny Bluegrass and the Porta John Pickers, The Plate Scrapers, Richie and Rosie, Jack Dunlap, Billy Strings, The Woodshedders, David Via, Bèla Fleck, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, The Way Down Wanderers, The Ingramettes, Molly Tuttle, The Jeff Austin Band, The Nessie Expedition, Furnace Mountain, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Western Centuries, and The Cris Jacobs Band.

Watermelon Park Fest has clearly made a new name for itself and has become a community of musicians and music-lovers, a devoted following of folks and family who come back every year. Here are some pictures of Watermelon Park Fest in Berryville, Virginia, on Sept. 20-23, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of Chester Simpson.

Billy Strings wearing a hat, hanging out backstage with Jared Pool and friends.

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Johnny Bluegrass and the Porta John Pickers

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Jack Dunlap

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Billy Strings

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Billy Strings

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Billy Strings

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

The Woodshedders

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Crowd enjoying The Woodshedders

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Bèla Fleck and Richie Stearns

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Bèla Fleck

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Marty Stuart

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Fest family and friends gather for a family photo

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

The Ingramettes

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

The Ingramettes singer jumps off stage and dances with the folks

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Barbecue Mountain Man slow cooks ribs for everyone thats hungry on Saturday

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Young dancers in front of main stage with Furnace Mountain performing

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Local people enjoying the music

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Flatfooting and clogging dancers on stage with Furnace Mountain performing

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Friends enjoying the music

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Molly Tuttle

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

“Colby’s Clothesmobile,” a local vender selling clothes

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

The Jeff Austin Band

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

The Jeff Austin Band

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

Ricky Skaggs and Frazer Watkins of Shepherds Ford Production

Watermelon Park Festival-9-22-18-285

Billy Strings

Watermelon Park Festival

Watermelon Park Festival

For more information on Watermelon Park Fest, visit the festival website!

 

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