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Annual bluegrass festival Saturday in Leadwood

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Leona Williams

Leona Williams will headline the Mineral Area Bluegrass Festival Saturday in Leadwood.

With increasing prices for everything from fuel to food, there aren’t many things which can be purchased for $5.

But there is something that can be purchased this weekend for $5: an all-day ticket to the eighth annual Mineral Area Bluegrass Festival.

Grab your lawn chairs and get ready to enjoy music and entertainment from multiple groups at one location in a family-friendly non-alcoholic setting.

Leona Williams is the headliner for Saturday’s festival at Leadwood City Park. Attendees will hear exceptionally talented musicians playing bluegrass, country and gospel music.

Saturday’s all-day festivities include numerous performances, and plenty of fun. There will be bounce houses and pony rides for the kids, as well as numerous vendors selling a variety of things, from T-shirts to sweet treats. Booth spaces are still available.

Food options will be plentiful and include Sugarfire’s barbecue; Roy’s Convenience Store of Leadwood with catfish, hushpuppies and potato wedges; pizza from Potosi Little Caesar’s; funnel cakes and kettle corn; locally famous chili by Kim Hartley, attorney Gary Matheny’s Tommy Texas hot dogs; and Belinda Drennen and Susan Masters’ chicken and dumplings; and more.

Attendees can also buy tickets for a gift card giveaway to win cards to Catfish Kettle, Hobby Lobby, Colton’s, Walmart or oil change from Premier Tire & Automotive.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Cost is $5 for adults, and children 12 and under receive free admission. Handicap-accessible parking and on-site restrooms are available.

In the event of rain, the event will be moved inside West County High School.

A special service begins at 10:30 a.m. to honor a local Irondale resident and Korean War veteran in a surprise ceremony. State Rep. Mike Henderson will present a resolution to the honoree.

Jaime Buhrmester and her first-grade students will sing the National Anthem, followed by Jenna Meador singing Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA.”

West County Choir Director Ryan Hassell will lead the high school’s concert choir and swing choirs starting at 11:15 a.m. This is their second year to return to the festival.

The concert choir will sing “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Grandma’s Featherbed” and “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.”

Swing choir students will sing “Rocky Top” with choreography by West County graduate Racheal Starbird; “God Gave Me You”; and “Forever Country,” a medley of “Country Roads,” “I Will Always Love You” and “On the Road Again.”

Both choirs will perform these songs in Branson as the opening act for the Anthems of Rock show on Oct. 28.

“We also have some solos from some of the students,” said Hassell. “This should be a fun day!”

Soloists and ensembles include “You Are My Sunshine” by Kirsten Jarrett, “Traveling Soldier” by Amber Henderson and Maddison Elder, and “Die from a Broken Heart” by Maddison Elder and Kirsten Jarrett.

In addition to the soloists and those performing in ensembles, other WCHS students who will take part in Saturdays’ festivities include Josie AuBuchon, Zach Barlow, Kaidyn Barton, Kayla Cox, Zayen Elliott, Kenneth Godat, Julia Hartley, Elle Hovis, Emily LaPlant, Destiny Menke, Sophia Moyers, Wyatt Roth, Ellita-May Russell, LeeAnna Sharp, Rebecca Somerville, Myles Stamelos, Nate Thomas, Drake Williams and Dakota Young.

The Punches Family, a bluegrass gospel group from Fredericktown, perform at noon, followed by the Country Fire Cloggers, a traditional award-winning team from Ellsinore and Piedmont with dancers of all ages who use their feet to “make the beat,” at 1 p.m.

Final Authority takes the stage at 2 p.m. This quartet has sung across the Midwest with groups including the Lester family, The Cathedral Quartet, Jeff and Sherry Easter, Blackwood Brothers, and more.

The Baker Family, one of the top bluegrass groups in the nation, performs at 4 p.m.

The Barry Jones Family, a well-known bluegrass and gospel group from Ironton, takes the stage at 5 p.m.

The Hartley Family, with special guest Gary Barlow, performs at 6 p.m. Barlow has performed all around the Ozarks.

Kaytlen Hartley, Julia Hartley and Peyton Moses, who are part of The Hartley Family, will also sing “Traveling Soldier.” In addition, Buhrmester and Meador will sing a special tribute to Naomi Judd.

Route 67 takes the stage at 7 p.m. This well-known band has performed for Aaron Tippin, Bellamy Brothers, Leona Williams and so many others.

“Route 67 has really been a big asset to our community,” said John Hartley Sr., president of the Mineral Area Bluegrass Association. “They have played at our festival since the first year.”

Moses, who sang “Rocky Top” at last year’s festival, will sing it again this year due to popular demand.

Nashville’s Leona Williams headlines the festival at 8 p.m. Son Ron Williams will sing first before he introduces his mother.

Leona was born in Missouri. It was obvious she was destined to become a country music entertainer after she started her first radio show in Jefferson City at age 15. The program, called Leona Sings helped launch her career.

She moved to Nashville in the 1960s. She recorded her own hit songs including “Country Girl With Hot Pants On,” “I Can’t Tell My Heart That,” and “I’m Not Supposed to Love You Anymore.”

She teamed up with Merle Haggard for the top-10 duet “The Bull and the Beaver.” She also wrote song of Haggard’s biggest hits including “You Take Me For Granted” and “Someday When Things Are Good.”

The artist has sung backup, performed with or written songs for a long list of famous country entertainers, including Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Vince Gill, Mo Bandy, Randy Travis, Willie Nelson, Connie Smith, Gene Watson, Hank Thompson, Jimmy Martin, and more.

Leona has been inducted into the Missouri Country Music Hall of Fame, Country Music Association of Texas Hall of Fame, North American Country Music Hall of Fame in Tennessee, and the Mobile Alabama Country Music Hall of Fame. She also earned Entertainer of the Year twice from the Reunion of Professional Entertainers.

George Jones once said, “Leona Williams is the greatest female country singer that has ever stepped up to a microphone. She can make a grown man cry with her sad songs.”

Hartley said many sponsors are needed each year to make the annual bluegrass festival a successful event. This year’s platinum sponsor is Critter Lane Petting Zoo, and gold sponsor is Unico Bank.

Some of the other sponsors include the Daily Journal, Independent Journal, Mineral Area Office Supply, Carla’s Café in Bismarck, Midwest Custom Creations, Dave Dickerson Jr., Pettus Automotive, Owl Creek Feed Store in Frankclay, Grand Rental, Desloge Walmart, Russell’s Triangle Café, Belgrade State Bank in Potosi, First State Community Bank, New Era Bank, CZ Boyer & Son Funeral Home, DeClue Funeral Home, Horton Wampler Funeral Home, Cozean Memorial Chapel & Crematory, Dan Hartley’s Hearing Aid Service and Batteries, West County Ministerial Alliance, Irondale Assembly of God, The Shepherd’s House, Faith Cowboy Church, Leadwood First Church of God, Bismarck Church of God, and Covenant Grace Church of God.

“The Mineral Area Bluegrass Association would like to thank the City of Leadwood and Dr. Kevin Coffman and the school board and staff for allowing us to use their facilities and for always supporting our organization.”

For updates, check the Mineral Area Bluegrass Association’s Facebook page.

The Mineral Area Bluegrass Association Board consists of John and Doris Hartley, Brad LaPlant, Wilma and Harley Adier, Diane Ely, Vera Thebeau, Nancy Patterson, Tammy Pyatt and Rachel Pyatt, Mark Werley, and Rev. Danny Adams.

For more information about the festival, call John Hartley Sr. at 573-218-8257 for information.

Pam Clifton is a contributing writer for the Daily Journal

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