Live music will be plentiful this week as the 10th annual Winding Creek Music Festival brings 11 bands to western Howard County over four days.
While most music festivals were nixed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Winding Creek organizer Bob Auth believed this festival will allow people to safely enjoy live music due to the expansive outdoor venue. Situated among 15 acres, Auth said attendees will have plenty of space to social distance.
“Everything is a go. We’ve been approved by the health board, and we’re just going to have signs asking people to social distance their group and enjoy the music and have a great time,” Auth said. “We’re really excited, and I feel like it’s a safe environment.”
This year’s festival is bringing in bluegrass, folk, old-time, and “newgrass” bands from around the Midwest, and a couple of the bands will have a particular draw to the younger demographic: Flatland Harmony Experience and Wayfarers Band.
Flatland Harmony Experience will kick off the festival on Thursday and also wrap it up on Sunday. The band, based out of Indianapolis, is described as a “high-octane, three-piece, vocally-driven string band.” The band features an instrumental mix of mandolin, banjo, and upright bass, and its music is said to span from “the founding roots of bluegrass to progressive gypsy and all places in between.”
The Wayfarers Band will perform on Saturday. The five-piece band hails from Zanesville, Ohio, and earned the title of 2018 John Hartford Memorial Band Competition Finalist, has been featured on ABC, FOX 28, on several radio stations, and has appeared in Country Living and Bluegrass Unlimited magazines. The band has been active since 2010.
This year’s festival also will return some staples from past festivals, including Fire Box Band and New Outlook Band, both of which performed last year and were asked to return due to their popularity. FireBox is based out of Effingham, Ill., and is known as a traditional bluegrass band styled after bands of the late ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. Fire Box Band will perform on Thursday and Friday.
New Outlook Band also is described as a traditional bluegrass band that takes music “in exciting new directions.” The band, which formed in 2009, will perform Saturday and Sunday.
“People are going to love all the bands, but those two, boy, they tear it up. It’s still bluegrass, folksy, and they bring a lot of excitement to the program,” Auth said.
Then, a number of “top-notch” local bands also will perform: Medicinal Bluegrass on Friday, Branded Bluegrass on Friday and Saturday, Kenny & Amanda Smith on Friday and Saturday, Alec Hurtubise & Friends on Friday and Saturday, Blue Holler on Saturday, Bahler’s Golden Age Band on Saturday and Sunday, and Kokomo Cowboy Church Band on Sunday.
“I’m trying to keep a balance of traditional bluegrass, and some of it is ‘newgrass.’ I’m trying to keep everybody happy and bring in a lot of the younger people,” he said.
New this year, Blackhawk Winery out of Sheridan, Ind., will be on hand throughout the festival, selling wine by the bottle and glass. This year, alcohol will be allowed in the stage area. Previously, it only was allowed at the campsites.
As always, several vendors will be selling food and homemade ice cream, and artisans will be selling their wares.
Also returning is the Youth Pick and Sing Workshop. The workshop is free to youth who participate, and they don’t have to pay an admission fee. According to Auth, this is to encourage youth to participate in an effort to pass down the love of bluegrass to younger generations.
For adults, a slow jam workshop led by Stew Lauterbach will give them a chance to play with others in a non-intimidating fashion.
“That is for people who know their guitar, but they don’t want to play fast, whether that’s because they’re a beginner or like to play slow music,” said Auth. “It’s for people who want to come and enjoy, and they’ll even learn a little etiquette without feeling intimidated when it’s fast playing.”
Winding Creek Music Festival takes place Aug. 13 to 16 at 9912 W. 100 S. in Russiaville, 10 miles west of Kokomo. General gate admission is $15 for Thursday, $20 for Friday, $25 for Saturday, and $10 for Sunday. Pre-pay admission tickets are $55 for a four-day pass, $45 for a three-day pass, or $23 for Saturday only.
New this year, students age 11 to 21 are admitted for half-off general admission, and children 10 and under are admitted free. Guests are asked to bring proof of age to receive the discount. Tickets can be purchased online now at windingcreekbluegrass.com.
Generators are welcome for those camping in the primitive campsites, and no registration is required. There are no hookups, but water is available. Pets are allowed for those camping.