LeMars, Iowa…..”Every year of our festival of old-time country music brings new surprises.”  Bob Everhart is the Director of the 36th annual “National Old-Time Country, Bluegrass, & Folk Music Festival held in America’s most ‘rural’ state, Iowa.  “We’re in our 36th year, and this year appears to be as interesting as any we have ever done.  Going over the participants, and the days they are going to be with us between August 29 and September 4, proves very interesting indeed.  We have an incredible number of super-pickers coming this year.  By that I mean we have instrumentalists coming that have not only excelled on their chosen instrument, but have attained an envious reputation of high quality musicianship.  Some are coming for Hall of Fame inductions, some are coming for Rural Roots Music Commission Awards, and some are coming just to ‘pick.’  We’ve always had great celebrities with us, and this year seems to be one of those stand outs.  Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, and Jeannie Seely are coming from the Grand Ole Opry for Hall of Fame inductions.  It’s the ‘super-pickers’ however, that will ‘strut their stuff’ as being the very best in their fields.”
     The festival, which takes place at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa (very near Sioux City), boasts seven days of old-time acoustic music on ten separate sound stages.  Over 600 participating musicians take part every year, playing in jam sessions as well as backing other artists, or just plain pickin.’  According to Everhart, “We’ve always had super pickers at this event, many of our local and regional players are very high in the esteem held for great pickers.  This year however is a challenge, and it runs the gamut for the entire seven days.”
     “Starting on Monday, August 29, with a super ‘setting the stage’ for the entire festival, are three incredible pickers,” Everhart elaborated.  “Kicking off the Monday show, is one of America’s premier banjo players, without a doubt in the top five internationally.  Little Roy Lewis, from Lincolnton, Georgia, of the very famous Lewis Family, begins our week-long trek in master pickers.  Little Roy is well known for his comedic pranks at bluegrass festivals, but it’s his incredible banjo playing that has placed him at the top of banjo players everywhere.  Watching him perform is in itself difficult, simply because he is so fast, so entertaining, and so fun.  Joining him on the Monday ‘Super-Pickers’ show is another legend, Tut Taylor from Wilkesboro, North Carolina.  Tut developed an entirely different way to play the Dobro.  Normally it is played much like the banjo, with finger picks.  Not so with Tut Taylor.  This incredibly talented man developed his own style of Dobro picking, using a flat pick.  Tut says “I didn’t know the difference, since I only ‘heard’ my favorite pickers, and then duplicated what I heard with a flat pick.”  He is also going into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame while he is in Iowa.  Also on the Monday billing, is Eddie Pennington, from Princeton, Kentucky.  Mr. Pennington will also go into the Hall of Fame.  He’s a ‘Merle Travis’ style picker, a friend of the legendary Ike Everly, and when we asked Smokey Smith, a close personal friend of Merle Travis, if Pennington was as good as Travis, Smokey said…”he’s better,” so we’re really glad to be able to start our week of ‘Super Pickers’ with such an enviable program.”
     The ‘Super Picker’ program doesn’t end on Monday, it’s just getting started.  According to Everhart, “On Tuesday we have a really distinctive and different approach to super pickers.  The Link Family from Lebanon, Missouri, is a family where everybody picks.  Bluegrass being their forte, they really shine on instrumental leads in that genre of music.  Also on that same bill is Roger Kenaston, another Dobro player of the first order.  Roger is one of our locals from Lyons, Nebraska, and we get excited when he starts playing his instrument.  On Wednesday, we’re going to leave the ‘pickin’ to a very old instrument, the lap dulcimer.  Fred Techau from Silver City, Iowa, will be the presenter, and on Thursday, another special guest from Nashville, Tennessee, will perform on the acoustic guitar.  He’s well known for his ‘jazz’ licks, but Tom Smith is a master of his instrument, and we’ll no doubt hear all kinds of outrageous acoustic guitar picking from him.  On Friday, another regional performer John Duttweiler from Burlington, Iowa, will strut his stuff, and then on Saturday we’ll have an incredible treat from one of the most innovative guitarists in existence.  Bonnie Guitar, from Soap Lake, Washington, the very one and the same that recorded “Dark Moon” is also one of the most distinguished guitarists in America.  It was Bonnie Guitar that tutored two groups to huge stardom, the ‘Fleetwoods’ and the ‘Ventures’ both groups well known for their ability to ‘pick.’  Also on Saturday, we have a lady from Bavaria (Germany) who ‘picks’ perhaps the most difficult stringed musical instrument of all, the zither.  Difficult to top all of these pickers that come from all parts of the United States, and the world, but we have the ONLY three-time champion picker from the Winfield, Kansas, competitions, Jason Shaw, with us on Sunday.  Entrants can only defend their championship once every five years in this prestigious competition, which means Jason Shaw, from Lincoln, Nebraska, had to win the championship once every five years.  He’s the only one able to do that in the history of the Winfield World Champion Flat-Pick Competitions.”
     There’s also music competitions at Everhart’s festival.  Prizes are not high, but according to Everhart, “We don’t really do contests just to award a lot of money.  We do contests so aspiring performers can get some idea how they are doing as a performer, as a picker.  We’ve got some incredibly good judges at this event too, which includes many instrumental contests.  Multi-millionaire Bob Duff from California, and his wife Charyl, are coming to LeMars, not only to ‘judge’ contests, they are actively looking for entertainers and songs for current projects they are working on.  They are both traditionalists, so this is the logical place to find new talent and songs.  Mr. Duff is also an auctioneer,.  He says “Can’t an older man have a hobby?”  So don’t be surprised if he doesn’t do an auction to help raise money for the Pioneer Music Museum, as well as help in our aspirations to build a children’s music camp in the upper Midwest.”

     More information is available at or e-mailing Everhart at

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