Erin Wilson Wagner is excited to be at the Davis County Fairgrounds hosting the Davis County Country & Old Time Music Festival once again.
“We are so ready,” she said. “I have never longed for this festival like I have this year. I’m always excited for this week to come, but never like this year.”
Members of the Wilson family and friends continue to host the festival which was begun 49 years ago with help from their ancestors, Vic and Clairbelle Wilson. Sons Bob, who played banjo, and Mike, who played guitar, worked hard to sustain the festival over the years.
Bob is still on the committee, even though he now lives in Glenwood. Erin, his daughter said, “Dad has always wanted to make it to the 50th year. He’ll be working the gate all week.”
The family lost Mike to COVID on Sept. 4, 2020, but will be honoring him with the first annual Mike Wilson Memorial Fish Fry at the festival on Thursday night. “The proceeds will be going to the Fair Board to improve the grounds,” Wagner said.
The Wilson family will be serving at the fish fry and doing cleanup duty. “The best way to remember someone is to celebrate them. He loved the festival and the people. His death leaves a very large void in our family,” she said.
Another key family member on this year’s festival committee is Mike’s grandson, Casey Weldon, who plays guitar and sings.
Other committee members are good friends Darin and Cara Manson from Albia. They are “wonderful supporters of the festival,” Wagner said. “Darin is a fantastic banjo player — a State Fair winner.
“They are some of the best people you could ever ask for. They put up with all the nonsense we throw at them,” she laughed.
Wagner also has the assistance of her siblings, Marnie and Noel, this week as they are in Bloomfield for some quality family time during the show. (Their family time — and committee time — includes having a float in the homecoming parade Friday.)
Campers will begin rolling into the Davis County Fairgrounds Sunday for the weeklong festival, and informal jam sessions will be filling the grounds shortly after arrival.
Scheduled entertainment begins Tuesday evening on the Veatch Stage with a Gospel night. The start time is dependent on the number of participants, Wagner said. “We’ll have a lot of great music for those who want to come and worship.”
Wednesday night’s entertainment will be the ever-popular Stump the Band where audience members submit song titles. “The bands will try to play the songs; if they can’t, the person who submitted the title gets a prize.”
Thursday night’s session will feature, a Band Jamble. “This is a staple of the festival,” Wagner said. “Band members put their names in a bucket and names are drawn out to form bands.”
There will be stage shows Friday and Saturday nights with bands signing up for time slots as they arrive.
Wagner is especially excited about a Kids’ Show Saturday morning. “We’ve had a fantastic turnout for this,” Wagner said. “Annie Hopkins of Unionville (State Fair Bill Riley winner) comes to this. There are kids there that have a lot of talent. They can sing any kinds of music they wish.
“This is an introduction to being on stage for many,” she said. “Casey emcees this and the band can figure out the songs and play along. We had over 25 kids for this show in 2019.”
Music instrument workshops are on the schedule for Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. People who have mastered their instruments will be leading the workshops in dobro, banjo, guitar, bass, mandolin, and hopefully fiddle.
Participants of all ages should take their own instruments to the workshops.
“We’ve seen an influx of kids in the past few years,” Wagner said, “and it’s interesting to see their improvement year after year.
“It’s good for anyone who wants to learn or is curious about a particular instrument,” she said.
Wagner said there will be bingo and jamming at the fairgrounds all week, and, if a caller can be found, line and swing dancing be offered on Wednesday evening.