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SIlver Dollar City/KSMU Partnership Celebrates 18 Years Promoting The Future Of Bluegrass

It’s the month of May, and at Silver Dollar City that means the familiar sounds we often associate with the Branson the park like riders on roller coasters or the train, will through May 27th, mix quite well with Bluegrass music during the duration of Silver Dollar City’s  Bluegrass and Barbeque Festival.

Credit Mike Smith / KSMU
Visitors Waiting For The Silver Dollar City Train To Pass

Among the most popular portions of BG&BBQ at SDC, is the annual Silver Dollar City/KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest.  This year on Saturday 25 May for the 18th annual such event, 18 young bands are entered into the competition, representing 14 states. 

“Yep, bands from14 states, and that’s about the most diverse we’ve had so far”, says BG&BBQ Festival Coordinator, D.A. Callaway.  “They’re coming from Pennsylvania, they’re coming from Minnesota, and they’re coming from California.  Quite a wide spread group coming ion there, and I’m so looking forward to it.  The Red Gold Hall, starting at 3pm”, said Callaway.

“We’ll run the first round from m3-5, then the second round from 6-8pm”, says D.A. Callaway. “We’ll work on the awards after that, so we’ll probably get out at 8:30 or so”, said Callaway.

Credit Silver Dollar City
D.A. Callaway With 2016 Silver Dollar City/KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Winners, The Baker Family, of Birch Tree Missouri

All participants must be 21 or younger the day of the contest, although parents can participate.  All groups will perform 6 minutes during each round during the 2-round contest, before a panel of 3 judges for each round.    

The top 5 bands will share $4,000 in prize money, but according to D.A. Callaway, that’s secondary to the biggest reward for all participants: Building relationships, and making life-long friends, “When we see about the relationships that have been created, and the life-time family friendships that have been made, and about the connections folks have made, picking all around the music.  Bluegrass music is a wholesome and healthy lifestyle choice, and those families who get involved, I think that’s an experience that probably isn’t duplicated in any other form of entertainment in the world”, says Callaway.

“Absolutely, and that’s what it’s really about, encouraging the Bluegrass artists of tomorrow”, says Peggy Haining, who competed with her children as The Haining Family, in the 2012 Silver Dollar City/KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest.

“It’s such a network that they build”, says Peggy Haining.  “Everywhere you go in the country, because the bands come from everywhere in the country, it seems like you’re going to see new old friends we’ve made in the contest or through the contest”, said Haining.

“We love Bluegrass music at Silver Dollar City, and through the  Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest, we can celebrate the future of Bluegrass”, said Brad Thomas, President of Silver Dollar City Attractions.

Credit Brad Thomas/MSU College of Business
Brad Thomas is President of Silver Dollar City Attractions

“These young families, these young performers”, says Thomas, “There are renown individuals today, that were once on that Youth in Bluegrass Stage, and we celebrate those roots, and we celebrate the fact that Bluegrass is alive and well in the Ozark Mountains, but also throughout the United States”, said Thomas. 

KSMU’s Mike Smith will be the host for the 18th, Silver Dollar City/KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest at Silver Dollar City’s Red Gold Hall, beginning at 3pm Saturday, 25 May.  Bluegrass and Barbeque continues at the Branson theme park, through Monday 27 May.

Mike Smith's career at KSMU began in 1980 as a student announcer when the former Navy Submariner attended (then) SMSU with help from the GI Bill. In 1982 Smith became a full time member of the KSMU family as "Chief Announcer", responsible for the acquisition, training and scheduling of the student announcing staff. It was also in 1982 when Smith first produced "Seldom Heard Music" a broadcast of Bluegrass which is still heard on KSMU and every Saturday night at 7CT.
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