A Danby Tradition Continues
Danby’s Olde Country and Bluegrass Festival closed its ninth year of music and festivities on July 25. The event, sponsored by the Green Mountain Climbers Snowmobile Club, raises the funds needed to maintain and repair the group’s trail system. Some of the proceeds also go to local charities. Campers from near and far – as many as 100 -– converge on what has been become known as Powers Field for a weekend of down-home commaraderie and live music performed by area bands. One of the biggest attractions are the pickin’ parties – impromptu jams that spring up at the campsites after hours, often going until the early morning hours. The weather was a mixed bag of rain and sun, but it did not dampen the spirits of attendees or staff. Two large tents in front of the stage offer a place out of the elements for onlookers to set up their chairs. People of all ages enjoy the family-friendly affair while listening to bands from Vermont, New York, Massachusetts and Tennessee. The highlight this year was Smokey Greene, performing in his final tour after 70 years of entertaining.
Dave Powers, who coordinates the campsites and the parking arrangements, estimates that Friday and Saturday are their best days, with upwards of 150 to 250 people coming in for the day. “Tary Jesmonth, Walter Teer and I are the main members involved with organizing the festival. Other club members volunteer, too, as well as family, friends and festival attendees. There must have been over 50 volunteers that participated this year in some fashion,” he said. “The volunteers’ kids also help do all kinds of tasks. Selling ice, checking trash bags, getting wrist bands and programs at the gate, giving rides to people from the parking lot to the tents and back, selling T-shirts, working in the cook shack, etc. There is a huge support staff that keeps the festival running smoothly. The volunteers are what keep the festival going each year.”
As the son of the landowner and living adjacent to the festival, Powers and his family do a lot of running around the week before to get things ready. “I get pulled in several directions, but it makes the day go by very quickly,” he said.
Powers’ wife, Cher, is almost always at the gate giving out wrist bands and programs, along with staff made up of family and friends. They cheerfully greet guests, answer their questions and guide them on where to park or camp. Their day begins by 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday with early arrivals. “That means that we usually have short nights after enjoying the pick’n parties that are going on around the festival grounds,” said Powers.
Tonya Powers acts as the cook shack coordinator. Her husband Mike, Dave’s brother, assists her by cleaning, getting the water hooked up, picking up food, organizing equipment, cooking and watching the couple’s four kids. The food served is top notch, and portioned well for the prices. “We decided the first year that we were not going to have high prices even though we had a captive audience that did not have many options for food and drink,” agreed Dave.
Dave’s parents, Pete and Mary Powers, own the field where the Festival is held. Pete helps with much of the setup and breakdown, lending his truck, tractors, trailers, tools, golf carts and other resources as needed. He even helps cut the French fries, which are made from scratch. Mary, who recently retired from the cook shack, sells T-shirts. Dave added,
“My parents are very proud of the festival and the snowmobile club and what this festival has become. They donate the use of the land each year.” Dave says that the festival works well because each group assists the others as needed.