The FreshGrass Festival continues in the Ozarks. Contributed Photo.
Contributed Photo

The FreshGrass Festival continues in the Ozarks 

The annual FreshGrass Festival took place in Bentonville, Ark., in May. Based on the original festival that began in North Adams, Mass., in 2010, this festival has positively catapulted the bluegrass movement in the Midwest. Music lovers come from all over the Ozarks, some from much further away, to enjoy a two-day weekend array of live bluegrass and other styles of “roots” music, giving birth to some of the most popular musical genres celebrated today. 

The lineup was heavy with talent. Featuring Trampled by Turtles, Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, Valerie June, Aoife O’Donovan, Alison Brown, Ruthie Foster, S.G. Goodman, Arkansauce, Po Ramblin’ Boys, among several other notable solo artists and bands. 

Festival goers filled Momentary Field. Many brought lawn chairs, several opted for blankets, and a few bleachers were at the secondary stage. Visitors could rent a VIP spot, complete with the comfort of living room-style couches and cushy chairs, along with a private bar as the cherry on top of this delicious sundae of live lyrical entertainment. 

FreshGrass comprises two main stages at the Momentary Green, a popular venue in Bentonville, Ark. The main stage is hard to miss, with the large, white, two-pronged mast standing high above the city. The Depression Stage, just a short walk away, hosts bands alternately, conveniently allowing for set changes between artists. 

Local artists also hit the stage. Arkansauce is a heavy-hitting, bluegrass, mind-blowing, genre-defying group of four talented artists from Fayetteville, Ark. They brought the magic of a spicy, southern, fast-paced performance. 

Despite their fairly recent, cult-like fame and their nearly weekly tours all over the U.S. (and Europe), they are “just ordinary folks.” 

The group Po Ramblin’ Boys made their Grand Ole Opry debut in October 2019 and was nominated for a Grammy a year later for Best Bluegrass Album “Toil, Tears & Trouble,” was also on hand. 

The annual FreshGrass Festival took place in Bentonville, Ark., in May. Based on the original festival that began in North Adams, Mass., in 2010, this festival has positively catapulted the bluegrass movement in the Midwest. Contributed Photo.
Contributed Photo

Their fast-paced bluegrass music prompts folks to stomp their feet, shake their heads, and move. 

FreshGrass is much more than a summertime music festival. There was a space dedicated to local vendors selling art, clothing, popular vintage attire, jewelry, and handmade masterpieces. There was a section of food trucks with nearly every delectable, tasty treat one could desire. Guests also had full access to the iconic Bentonville coffee shop, Onyx Coffee, which stayed open late for those weary fans, soaked by the hot summer sun and desperately in need of a shot of hot or cold caffeine to encourage a much-needed second wind for the late-night performances. 

In addition to the merchandise vendors, shops and food trucks, the popular museum at The Momentary was available for guests to appreciate a complete display of mesmerizing art. The black and white photography exhibit, Dark Waters by Kristine Potter, born in Dallas, Texas, and a current Nashville, Tenn., native and photography artist, is on display until October. With a paralyzing theme of southern backroads, rivers and remote locales, given chilling violent names, the black and white exhibit depicts an inner struggle between violence and darkness, traditionally concerning women, along with a polarizing beauty of the deep south landscape. It was an interesting showcase and a treat to appreciate art, enjoy the refreshing air-conditioning, and take advantage of indoor plumbing.

Between live concerts, the red barn on The Momentary premises offered a break from the direct sun, square-dancing lessons, and an all-inclusive musical jam session. The jam session involved professional artists sharing tricks of the trade with their musical instruments. They sat in a circle, inviting anyone possessing musical interest to join. 

Strangers turned friends via the shared interest of their craft, hobby, profession, and glorious passion.

The relaxed atmosphere of this open-air concert produced the unique ability to nap on the lawn, dance with one’s young children, and enjoy an adult beverage (or three), all while literally rocking out in a lawn chair or bringing a rocking chair. 

There is an area for bikes and even a bike valet, as Bentonville is home to some of the country’s most desirable mountain biking and greenway trails. 

Families enjoyed spending the day together, with the familiar sound of background music appealing to all ages. New friendships were likely forged by those in attendance, who made plans to join up at next year’s event. This festival will likely become an annual tradition for many (including this writer). Once visitors experience the sheer magic it pours, they will be back.


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