A lush green field that was once used to grow tobacco in the rural community of Woodville will come alive on July 27-30 as the Nunn Brothers’ 19th-Annual Bluegrass Festival draws hundreds of music lovers to what is now dubbed The Nunn Brothers Music Park.
Nestled alongside a stream in a bottom between the Nunn family homeplace and the nearby homes where twin brothers Alden and Arnold Nunn now reside, the field reflects the rich rural history of bluegrass that is present in both family and community.
The brothers have dedicated the festival to the memory of their father, Clarence Olin Nunn, who passed away in 1979, when Alden and Arnold were 13. With Olin’s encouragement both boys had begun playing instruments at the age of eight and each grew to love bluegrass music as did their parents.
With music a family passion, impromptu bluegrass jam sessions were common in the Nunns’ boyhood home and large gatherings of family and friends would often be built around the chance to play.
The park is also dedicated to the memory of loved ones A. Blaine Nunn (1967-1985), Delmer C. Inman (1935-2001), T. Haakon Chilton (1918-2004), Robert J. Hall (1935-2011) and Walter L. Rogers (1919-2012).
According to Arnold Nunn, the atmosphere for the weekend is like “a big family reunion,” with family, old friends and neighbors being joined by hundreds of bluegrass music fans from throughout the region and beyond.
“It’s a good time,” Alden Nunn added. “People come out to enjoy the music but they’re also here to see each other. The music, the crowd and the location – it all comes together to create a good festival atmosphere.”
“We get to see some people we haven’t seen since last year,” Arnold Nunn agreed. “We’ve gotten to know a lot of people from this, and everybody looks forward to it. We have a good time playing and seeing everybody. We enjoy it big time.”
The festival will kick off on Thursday, July 27, at 7 p.m. with a musicians’ jam session hosted by the Nunn Brothers. The evening will be free and open to all.
A full Friday evening lineup will begin at 7 p.m. In addition to The Nunn Brothers and Friends, scheduled groups are Changing Lanes and Carson Peters and Iron Mountain. Arnold Nunn described Changing Lanes as “an up-and-coming group” out of Hillsville, Virginia, whose reputation is quickly growing.
With deep local roots, Carson Peters and Iron Mountain has become well known throughout the region and beyond. Still only 13 years old, Carson Peters has already compiled a long list of awards and accomplishments with his fiddle. He has claimed multiple championships against top competition at the Bluegrass and Old-time Fiddlers’ Convention in Mount Airy. He has played in numerous well-known venues throughout the region including multiple appearances at The Grand Ole Opry, and, in 2013, was featured as a guest on “The Tonight Show.”
“Carson is making a real name for himself,” Alden Nunn noted. ”It’s good to see the younger generation carrying on this music and to see the talent they have.”
Saturday performances will begin at 5 p.m., featuring a steady lineup of popular bluegrass groups including Mark Templeton and Pocket Change, Passing Thru and Big Country Bluegrass.
Both Big Country Bluegrass and Carson Peters and Iron Mountain are back for another year after helping to headline the 2016 festival.
“People really liked them,” Arnold Nunn said, “and we’re pleased to be able to have them back. We’re pleased with our entire lineup this year. People are going to get to hear some good music.”
As has become a festival tradition, Sunday afternoon will be dedicated to free gospel music and a message. The Nunn Brothers and Friends will be joined by other local groups and singers while a local minister will bring a sermon.
Admission for the festival will be $9 for Friday and $10 for Saturday or $18 for both days. No admission will be charged for Thursday’s jam session and for Sunday activities. Children under the age of 10 will be admitted free throughout the weekend.
Plenty of parking is available but organizers recommend that those attending bring lawn chairs as well as umbrellas and jackets in case of a sudden shower. Tents and picnic tables are set up and primitive camping is available. However, power and camp hook-ups are not provided.
Alcoholic beverages will not be allowed in the concert area. Pets are allowed, but must be kept on a leash.
Concessions will be available for purchase, including drinks and ice cream provided by Albion Baptist Church.
From Pilot Mountain, the festival can be reached by taking Old Westfield Road to its end at Westfield Baptist Church and turning left onto N.C. 89 (Westfield Road). Turn right after about 3 miles onto Woodville Road. The park is located 3/4 miles on the right.
From Mount Airy, take N.C. 89 (Westfield Road) at The Derby Restaurant in the Bannertown community and go 8 miles before turning left onto Woodville Road. The park is located ¾ miles on the right.
Additional information on the festival can be found at www.nunnbrothers.com or by calling 336-325-6866 or 336-325-9891.