For the third year in a row, the state of Maryland is coordinating and helping to fund a country and bluegrass music festival -- this time in Fair Hill in Cecil County.
The Fair Hill Country/Bluegrass Music Festival -- headlined by the Judds and featuring such top-name acts as Ricky Van Shelton, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shelby Lynne -- will be held Aug. 10 on a wooded tract owned by the state Department of Natural Resources, officials announced yesterday.
At the same time, they said a similar festival held for the first time last August on a private tract on the Tangier Sound near Crisfield would not be mounted again this year because of uncertainty about the availability of the site.
Tony Bruce, treasurer of the Tangier Sound Music Festival Foundation, Inc., a local steering group, said the foundation feared the festival site, donated last year by financially troubled Washington real estate developer Mark Vogel, might be subject to bank foreclosure. To move to another site on short notice would present "all sorts of logistical problems," he said.
Instead, the foundation is planning to hold a festival next Memorial Day weekend and anticipates that the state will support its efforts, Mr. Bruce said.
The first state-sponsored country/bluegrass festival was in 1989 Allegheny County's Rocky Gap State Park; it will be held for the third year -- under the auspices of a private foundation -- Aug. 2-4.
To stage the Fair Hill event, the state Department of Economic and Employment Development is putting up $80,000 for promotion and deposits needed to secure the acts, and the DNR is contributing an equal amount for site improvements. Cecil County is chipping in another $60,000 to get the festival off the ground. It is expected the festival will generate $1 million in food, lodging, gas and other expenses, said state
Unlike the Rocky Gap and Tangier Sound festivals, which were initiated to aid severely economically depressed areas, the Fair Hill event is being held to build on promotional campaigns to lure visitors to Maryland from nearby Delaware and Pennsylvania, Mr. Lofton said.
Jody Albright, director of the Governor's Office on Art and Culture, which is coordinating the event, said it would be a "family festival" featuring crafts and children's activity as well as music.
The appearance by the mother-daughter duet the Judds will be part of their farewell tour. Mother Naomi has announced she will retire for health reasons.
Tickets are $15 at the gate and $10 in advance and may be ordered by calling (800) 677-5833.