As June dawns on the horizon, my eyes begin to focus more often on the summer bluegrass festivals.

I think of the first Bluegrass festival that I went to, our dad drove us up to Canada to Bluegrass Canada, Carlisle Ontario.  I think I was 15 years old and my brother was 13; we had both been playing about a year and a half at the time. I played banjo and Chris played mandolin.  I remember being awestruck watching the Country Gentlemen play. My banjo teacher, Bob Schneider, was a big fan of the Gentleman. I realized then that it wasn’t just about the music or the singing or the fast banjo playing, it was also about being funny and drawing the crowd into the fun the bands on stage. The other bands that came up on the main stage were all very good but it was the bands like the Country Gentleman and the Seldom Scene that really stood out.

Later in the afternoon, my brother and I took our instruments and we went from Campsite to Campsite looking for other people to play Bluegrass music with. There was no shortage of skilled Bluegrass musicians at that festival. As I attended other festivals soon after that, I noticed this was the norm not the exception. People loved to jam. In fact, some people went specifically to jam, and only once in a while would come out and see somebody playing on the main stage. We jammed with strangers, or more like temporary friends, well into the night.

Through the next fifty years, I’ve been going to perhaps three or four bluegrass festivals every year camping in tents, motor homes, pop up trailers and staying in motels near the campgrounds. This year we are renting a motor home from an RV share website. There is a special feeling you get making up these temporary villages, feeling the sense of community and enjoying music that bands play and festival goers jam. Bluegrass is unique in that the fans are also players and are encouraged to play informally at the festivals.

There are about a dozen bluegrass festivals every weekend of the summer all over the US. Here is a list of the ones in New York state, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Ohio. I hope you can experience some of this excitement this summer.

In June:

5/30-6/2   NEPA Bluegrass Festival, Tunkhannock, PA

5/31-6/2    Adirondack Bluegrass League Annual Roundup, Galway, NY

6-8       Thousand Islands Bluegrass Festival, Clayton, NY

6-9       Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival, Wind Gap, PA

14-15   Highland County Bluegrass Festival, Hillsboro, OH

20-22   Smoked Country Jam Bluegrass Festival, Cross Fork, PA

20-23   9th Annual Get Down, Blaine, PA

21-23   Bedford Bluegrass Bash, Bedford, PA

13-15   Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival, Iroquois, ON

21-23   Tottenham Bluegrass Festival, Tottenham, ON

29         Cold Spring bluegrass & old time country day, Cold Spring Fire Co, 154 Main St, Cold Spring, NY


5-6       Great Blue Heron Music Festival, Sherman, NY

12-14   Busy Bird Bluegrass Festival, Berkshire, NY

13        Bluegrass on the Grass, Carlisle, PA

14-19   Augusta Heritage Center Bluegrass & Vocal Week, Elkins, WV

17-21   Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Oak Hill, NY

25-28   Brantling Bluegrass Festival, Sodus, NY


1-4       Appalachian Fiddle & Bluegrass Association Festival, Wind Gap, PA

2-4       Grassfire Festival, Garrettsville, OH

3          Vernon Fest 2024, Hamilton, OH

9-11     Wattsburg Bluegrass Music Festival, Wattsburg, PA  Facebook

15-18   Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, Gettysburg, PA

17        Long Island Bluegrass & Roots Music Festival, Copiague, NY

17        Mayville Bluegrass Festival Mayville, NY   Facebook

17-18   Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival, Somerset, PA

22-24   Pickin’ in the Pasture, Lodi, NY

22-24   Brown County Bluegrass Festival, Georgetown, OH

22-25   Crook Farm Old-Time Music Festival, Bradford, PA

8/28-9/2  SamJam Bluegrass Festival, Piketon, OH

There are many special local bluegrass shows coming up and I’d like to highlight one in particular. The Buffalo Bluegrass Youth Ensemble which is a volunteer music club that I run with Bill Matthews, Chris Panfil, Bruce Decker and Mark Gannon. Our musicians are all Middle School and High School fiddlers, banjo, guitar, mandolin, viola, cello, bass and harmonica players from all over western New York. We are having our Spring Concert and Bake Sale at Wayside Church in Hamburg at 5017 Lake Shore Drive at 7 PM on Monday, June 17th. These young musicians will play songs by Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Flatt and Scruggs, the Steep Canyon Rangers and even Taylor Swift. It is free and open to the public with a free will offering to help play for our use of the church’s facilities throughout the year for our practices. We would love to pack the church with local bluegrass supporters. We’d love to see you there!

These are the local,  up coming Bluegrass shows:

June 6-8 Thousand Island bluegrass festival Clayton, NC, USA

Saturday June 8, 2-3 PM – The Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars at the East Aurora Music Festival at 42 North Brewing Co. – East Aurora, NY


Saturday, June 8, 7 PM- The Crooked North at the Geneseo Riviera Theater, Geneseo, NY



Sunday, June 9  2 – 7pm  the Monthly Jam session Bennington Lanes, Attica, NY



Thursday, June 13, 6:30 – 8:30pm, Creek Bend – Marilla, NY across from Marilla Country Store



Saturday June 15, 3:30-5:30 PM- Old Time String Jam Session at the Crane Library, Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY


Saturday June 15  6 PM- Kevin Prater Band- Community Fellowship Church- Middleport, NY



Sunday, June 16, 4 – 7 pm, Old time string jam session, 42 North Brewing Company, East Aurora, NY


Monday June 17  7 PM- The Buffalo Bluegrass Youth Ensemble Spring Concert and Bake Sale- Wayside Presbyterian Church, Hamburg, NY





Saturday June 22, 6-9 PM- The Panfil Brothers Trio- East Eden Tavern- Eden, NY






Saturday, June 22, 7 – 10pm, TopHouse bluegrass band,  Buffalo Iron Works, Buffalo, NY



Tuesday, June 25, 7 – 9pm  Creek Bend – Grand Island Town Hall, Grand Island, NY

Saturday, June 29, 11:00 AM- 10:00 PM- The Cold Spring Bluegrass festival and Jam sessions. Coldspring, NY

Saturday June 29, 11am – 2pm, The Panfil Brothers trio- Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, NY

Sunday, June 30, 11am – 2pm, The Panfil Brothers trio- Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, NY

Friday, July 5- 7 PM- Sam Bush Band, Donna the Buffalo and Bill Ward and the Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars at the Great Blue Heron Music Festival- Sherman, NY

Wednesday, July 10, 7 – 9pm- Creek bend -Alden Town Park, Alden, NY

Thursday, July 11, 7 – 8:30pm, , Heart to Heart, 211 Clinton St, Bennington Historical Society, Cowlesville, NY

Saturday, July 13, 6 – 9pm, Creek Bend – Comm Fellowship Church, Middleport, NY

Saturday, August 17- 11:30 AM- 9:30 PM- The Mayville Bluegrass Festival featuring; The Clay Hess Band, Gregg Welty, South 79, Knarly Knuckles, Creek Bend, Mountain Run feat. Doug Yeomans, Michael Gerholt, Jon Garon & Friends Big Inlet Bluegrass All-Stars and Bill Ward & Friends

Have a great June and I hope to see you at a Bluegrass show this summer,

It’s going to be a great summer for music. Hope you can catch a live show or two and maybe a festival. There are hundreds of Bluegrass Festival happening throughout the US, Canada and Europe. A very good website to look them up is

Until next time,

Keep on Pickin’!     Mark Panfil,  Creek Bend and



Angela Hastings

Author Angela Hastings

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