Nothing to see here… John Hartford Festival

by Jun 7, 2016Music, Reviews1 comment

Is there a John Hartford Memorial Festival?


You may begin to hear murmurs of the magic that took place this first June weekend in Bean Blossom, Indiana.   You may have seen a picture or two depicting the endless smiles, the beautifully wooded campgrounds, the incredibly intimate stages and the countless number of talented pickers at large.  You may even have heard a first-hand account from someone who attended the 6th Annual John Hartford Memorial Festival. 

I’m hear to tell you that none of it is true.

In 1951, Bill Monroe purchased the property that is now the Historic Bill Monroe Music Park.  In 1967 a tradition was born, and the oldest continuous running bluegrass festival in the world will be celebrating the 50th Annual Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival on June 11-18, 2016. 

It is fitting, then, that when choosing to honor another legend in John Hartford, this would be the place. 

If the life and music of a man who had such a profound effect on so many modern artists from so many genres was to be celebrated, it would be here.

If John Hartford’s songs were to be played and sung all night long by some of the most talented pickers in the land, no better venue could be chosen for a festival like this.

Unfortunately, no such festival exists.

If the 6th Annual John Hartford Memorial Festival did in fact take place on these hallowed historic grounds, it can be envisioned that the spirits of both John Hartford and Bill Monroe would be alive and picking all night long with their hundreds of dedicated fans. 

Oh, the pickin’ there would be at such an event! 

I can only imagine the campfires surrounded by banjos, the fiddlers wandering from pick to pick, the love and camaraderie at each and every one, the joyful singing reverberating throughout the sacred wood. 

Oh, the pickin’!

Yes, if such a festival did in fact occur last weekend, there would be talent unmeasurable in every nook and cranny.  Legends of the genre would be strolling the campgrounds, equally awed and amazed at the wonder of this impossibly beautiful event. 

There would be family everywhere, friends old and new, and an overwhelming feeling that this is just too good to be real. 

Because it wasn’t real.

No, my friends, forget what you may have heard.  Don’t believe the images, video and audio that may begin to surface.  Like Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster, these are fakes that can’t be trusted.  Desperate attempts to give validity to a fantasy that just could not possibly exist in this world. 

If an utopia such as the one imagined in Bean Blossom did in fact exist, we would need to cherish it, protect it, keep it hidden from the masses and closely guarded in our hearts.

If the John Hartford Memorial Festival was real, we would have vowed to return to it every year of our lives, to recreate the magic we found there again and again.


Alas, my friends, the John Hartford Memorial Festival was all a dream. 

There was no music festival in Bean Blossom, Indiana.

So please don’t go looking for it next year.

And this…