The 59th Annual Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival kicks off today with bands on stage through Saturday.

My family is full of bluegrass pickers, so I grew up listening to many of them play tunes by Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Norman Blake, Tony Rice, Larry Sparks, and several others. I still go back and listen to songs like "Church Street Blues," "Sitting on top of the World," and "John Deere Tractor," when on a long road trip or after a hard day. Those notes filled a good part of my childhood and even sparked my interest in country music as a whole.

Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival has been around for decades and has a unique background. According to the Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground's website, the festival finds its roots at the end of the Great Depression in 1939, when Bean Blossom was just a small, quiet town in Brown County, Indiana. There wasn't much to do in those days, so folks started gathering at a local filling station to play popular country songs of the day. Eventually, interest grew, and the locales got together to launch “The Brown County Jamboree."

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Over the next decade, Bean Blossom locals Francis and Mae Rund made improvements to their property, adding cabins, camp sites, and buildings to house live music for the festival. In 1951, bluegrass legend and Kentucky native Bill Monroe began playing at the festival and, within a year, decided to buy the land from Francis and Mae Rund. According to the campground's website, the first annual festival hosted by Bill Monroe was in 1967 and was called the “Big Blue Grass Celebration.” It started as a two-day event before expanding to a four-day festival the following year. In 1969, the celebration was renamed "Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Festival."

Monroe died in 1996 and left the Jamboree grounds to his son James, who sold the land to Dwight Dillman in 1998. When Dillman took over the park, he named it “Bill Monroe’s Memorial Park & Campground.” According to Bluegrass Today, the grounds were sold again in 2018 to Rex and Ben Voils, who are Bean Blossom born and raised. The festival continues every year and, in 2024, is set to welcome an assortment of popular bluegrass bands and artists to the stage.

There are definitely some noteworthy performers heading up the main stage during this year's event, which runs from June 12, 2024, through June 15, 2024. Some of the top performers include Ralph Stanley II and The Clinch Mountain Boys, Grand Ole Opry stars Darin and Brooke Aldridge, as well as six-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year and two-time Grammy nominee Dale Ann Bradley, who a few years ago released a spectactular bluegrass rendition of Jounrey's "Wheel in the Sky." Wilson Banjo Co., who currently has the #1 Bluegrass album on the Roots Music Chart, will also be performing. 

In addition to an assortment of music, vendors, and sideline jam sessions, the festival will also feature a full Veterans Salute. This salute to veterans will be held on Saturday at 6 p.m. and will include the national anthem, presentation of colors, recognition of veterans, an honor guard, and a military flyover featuring red, white, and blue smoke. More information about the event and how to get tickets can be found here.

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