Will’s Place to host second annual bluegrass festival this weekend

Published 10:36 am Monday, September 19, 2022

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In order to continue raising awareness about addiction and recovery, Will’s Place will host its second annual bluegrass festival at The Lodge on Hatley Farm on Friday to Sunday.

About 400 people attended last year’s event, which raised about $3,000, according to director of faith based programming Caitlin McAlhany, who organized the event.

“There were people that came who never heard about us or didn’t know anything about addiction, so it was a great success,” McAlhany said.

Wanting to go even bigger this year, McAlhanty is hoping to attract as many as 600 people to the three-day festival.

“We’re really excited about it,” she said. “It’s great to provide an event to the community that is completely sober and also family friendly.”

The goal is for the festival to be the organization’s “big yearly fundraiser,” McAlhany said.

The Recovery Road Bluegrass Festival kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday with music from Dennis Parker, a member of the Grammy-winning band Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder. Parker, who plays fiddle, banjo and guitar, sings songs from artists such as James Taylor, Joe Diffie, the Stanley Brothers and Bonnie Raitt.

As someone who has been in recovery for several years, Parker will share his story in between performances, McAlhany said. The event is free to the public, though donations are encouraged.

The main attraction will be Saturday, when seven musicians and bands will perform: Gabe Webster, Carley Hatley, Chelsea Clare, The Scott Family, Drive Time, Deeper Shade of Blue and The Malpass Brothers. The music will begin at 11 a.m.

In between some of the musical performances, there will be testimonials from Will’s Place staff members who are in recovery. They include McAlhany, founder and executive director Allison Hudson and director of services Sue Turner.

Saturday’s event costs $30 in advance, $35 at the gate. It is free for kids 12 and under. McAlhany said Will’s Place has already sold around 100 tickets.

Each attendant will receive a wristband, allowing them to come and go as they please throughout the day.

In addition to the music, there will be a silent auction inside the lodge, a bouncy house and yard games for young kids, an on-site AA meeting, and more than 10 local vendors and food trucks.

There will also be a worship service, free to the public though offerings are encouraged, at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. McAlhany will preach and music will be led by The Scott Family.

A potluck community meal will follow. McAlhany encourages people to bring a side dish.

All the proceeds of the festival will benefit Will’s Place and its ministries. These include a youth summer camp for K-6 students, which started in 2021; the Silo, a faith community centered in recovery which meets for worship the first and third Sunday of each month at 6 p.m. at First Street United Methodist Church in Albemarle; and an after school program at East Albemarle Elementary.

Will’s Place is supported by individuals throughout the community along with churches and other organizations.

People can purchase tickets in advance at recoveryroadbluegrassfest.org. They can also purchase tickets at the event.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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