Sequester's Cuts Can't Quiet Va. Music Series

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July 17, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

Bluegrass music fans listen to a concert on Roanoke Mountain in southwestern Virginia.

Diminished funding has not stopped a summertime tradition on Roanoke Mountain in southwestern Virginia.

On Sunday (July 14), close to 200 people traveled up the mountain with folding chairs in tow to listen to the sounds of local trio Judy, Henry and Jack.

The performance was part of the Roanoke Mountain Campground Concert Series, which continued this year even as funding for the campground did not, the Roanoke Times reported.

Earlier this year the longtime concert series was in jeopardy after the National Park Service opted not to reopen the campground amid federal budget cuts caused by the sequester.

Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a Roanoke-based nonprofit group that supports the attraction, stepped in to staff the event with volunteers.

So the show has gone on, and patrons have continued to come .

“It’s the same old intimate program,” said Dennis McKim, who said he’s been coming for years and even played the concert series in the past.

He said many concert goers have been coming for ages and know one another.

“It’s seems like a little family. Everyone knows everyone,” he said. “I hope they keep it going. I hope it continues.”

Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway has two volunteers staff each concert. They greet people, show them where to park and make sure they know what time the area closes .

Volunteers Jerry Thompson and Jay Griffin have staffed several concerts this year, including Sunday’s performance.

Both said they enjoy the bluegrass music. As cars pulled into the campground off Mill Mountain Road, the band could be heard faintly as the two directed traffic.

Thompson said people stop showing up shortly after 7 p.m., allowing him to venture down the hill to listen to the music.

“This is just bluegrass country,” he said. “It’s up in the mountains. It’s got a good feeling. It’s quiet.”

Even as the crowd on the grass grew, the only sounds were the buzz of insects and the music of the string band.

Griffin said he wants to see the series continue.

“It’s a tradition,” he said. “It’s been a tradition.”

For many in attendance Sunday, the concert has been something they’ve done each summer for years.

Carol Butterworth said she’s been coming for several years because her husband loves the music so much.

She said people are still attending this year even if the campground isn’t open , but she’s noticed that the park is showing signs of deterioration from the lack of maintenance since the closing.

“I wish there was something they could do to open it up,” she said.

The series continues each Sunday until Sept. 1. Admission is free. Gates open at 6 p.m. and music begins at 7 p.m.

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