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Young Musicians Are Getting Ready To Compete In The KSMU Youth In Bluegrass Band Contest

Silver Dollar City

Friday and Saturday, May 28 and 29, 10 bluegrass bands, made up mostly of young people, will compete in the KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest at Silver Dollar City.

Competitors must be 21 or younger, but their parents are allowed to take part as members of a band.

The contest began in 2002, and this year would have been the 20th consecutive year—if last year’s competition hadn’t been canceled because of the pandemic. 

The KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest emcee, Mike Smith, who also happens to be the host of the long-running KSMU show, Seldom Heard Music, said D.A. Callaway, retired entertainment manager for Silver Dollar City, came up with the idea for the contest two decades ago.

"In 2001, in October, D.A. and a whole bunch of other folks were at my home at the time in Fair Grove, Missouri for a picking party, and D.A. approached and said he had this idea for a kids' contest at Silver Dollar City and would I be interested in participating, and I jumped right on that and said, 'yes. Certainly,'" Smith said.

The first contest was held in the fall of 2002. 

Smith said the musicians who compete are top notch.  Some go on to play professionally.  And even if they don’t, the contest is a great experience for the young performers.

"A young musician who steps out on the stage in front of 850 people sitting and another 100 or more standing in the back of the room--that experience would give that young person confidence for the next time that he or she takes to a stage," he said.

Ten bands will compete in round one Friday afternoon (5/28) at 3 at Silver Dollar City’s Opera House Theatre.  The number of competitors was capped at 10 this year due to the pandemic. Only five will be in the finals, which start at 6 p.m. Saturday (5/29) in Echo Hollow Amphitheatre.

Admission to the contest is free with paid admission to Silver Dollar City.