CP photo by Lisa Cunningham
Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival
Daily grind got you dreaming of an escape? Then head to the hills!
Tucked into the beautiful wilderness of Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset, about an hour drive from Pittsburgh, the cheerful picking of strings will flow through the trees this weekend for the annual Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival.
The stage is set up under a large tent, with seating available on a first-come, first-serve basis. It usually fills up fast. City Paper
recommends bringing chairs or a blanket to sit on the grass. You can still hear the music, and you'll get a better view of the mountains against the skyline as you listen.
Seven bluegrass bands play over the course of the fest — four on Saturday, three on Sunday. Aren't able to get there when it starts? No worries. Stick around — each band plays a second set.
Favorites include Harrisburg band Colebrook Road
, whose contemporary, upbeat strings are perfect for dancing, and Jakob's Ferry Stragglers
, who bring a fresh take to bluegrass tunes with hints of rockabilly. Fans of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Arts Festival will recognize its annual Bluegrass Day staple Allegheny Grifters
, a must-see for lovers of traditional tunes.
And the festival is totally free! But bring cash for food trucks and church stands, providing cheap eats like barbecue, haluski, and desserts. There's also a vendor area with wares from local artisans, typically selling homemade goods like candles, jams, and pottery. Somerset County is renowned for its maple syrup, if you can find some.
Want to fully embrace the retreat from city life? Sign up for a wagon ride or check out the old-timey village set up at the top of the hill, with demonstrations by reenactors dressed in period garb.
The festival's organization is impressive — volunteers direct traffic, there's ADA parking and shuttle drivers to give lifts to folks with disabilities, and people walking around the park the entire length of the festival, happy to help when needed. You can also bring your pup. The festival is dog-friendly.
One note of caution: Right now, there's a chance of thunderstorms, but in years past, when the storms come, the bands pack up then start again when and if the skies clear. Fingers crossed for sun.
Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival. Sat., Aug. 18, Noon-8 p.m., and Sun., Aug. 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Laurel Hill State Park, Somerset. Free. laurelhillbluegrass.com