The third annual Baldcypress Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, May 19, will include five regional and nationally-known bluegrass bands, food trucks, local beer and wines, craft vendors, a native plant sale, and free bus tours through Delaware Wild Lands’ (DWL) Great Cypress Swamp.
The festival, which runs from noon to 6 p.m. at the Roman Fisher Farm, 24558 Cypress Road, Frankford, will benefit DWL, Delaware’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. The festival grounds are at the edge of the Great Cypress Swamp, the largest forest on the Delmarva Peninsula. DWL owns and manages 10,600 contiguous acres of the swamp, which straddles the Delaware-Maryland state border.
This year’s headliner will be Johnny Staats & the Delivery Boys from West Virginia. Staats is a mandolin, guitar and fiddle player. He’s been featured on NBC’s “Today Show,” “CBS Evening News” and CNN; in the New York Times and People magazine. Staats and his band have performed multiple times on NPR’s nationally-broadcast “Mountain Stage” and at the Grand Ole Opry.
Four additional bluegrass bands will play sets throughout the day:
• New & Spare Fools — a collection of all-star musicians from the Delmarva region, the band includes Mickey Justice and Todd Smith of Such Fools, Jon Simmons and Martin Wirtz of New & Used Bluegrass, and Wes Parks of No Spare Time.
• Acoustic Turnpike — known in bluegrass circles of Northern Delaware and Southern New Jersey, members of this band are active in Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music, the organization that has hosted the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival for decades.
• Flatland Drive — returning again for 2018, this local band combine traditional, hard-driving bluegrass with modern stylings.
• Mountain Ride — new to the Baldcypress Bluegrass Festival, this group of young musicians from southcentral Pennsylvania will also be appearing in Delaware at the 2018 Wilmington Wintergrass Festival.
This year’s food trucks will include a variety of items.
Dixie’s Down Home Cooking is new to the food truck scene, but owners Bill and Kim Newsom have more than 27 years of food-industry experience. Kim Newsom learned special family recipes from her Aunt Helen, founder of Helen’s Famous Sausage House in Smyrna.
Truck It from Georgetown will be serving up their grilled cheese and meatball sandwiches. Ice cream made by several Delaware creameries will available at a new food truck from the Blue Scoop of West Fenwick, and homemade pasties will be offered by the Blue Hen Baker.
Festival attendees will be able to quench their thirst with Dogfish Head beer and local wines.
New this year will be a native plant sale hosted by How Sweet It Is, a garden center in Eden, Md. Guests are being invited to bring their toughest plant questions to the festival for free advice from a nationally-known horticultural expert. Richard Davis will be on hand at the plant sale to chat with festival guests throughout the day.
Woodworker Michael O’Grady is returning this year with his beautiful and functional homewares. He and his team from Middletown will offer woodworking pieces made from trees DWL harvested from the Great Cypress Swamp.
Tickets to the Baldcypress Bluegrass Festival also include the opportunity to ride a guided bus tour looping through the Great Cypress Swamp. DWL is actively restoring forests, wetlands and wildlife habitat in the unusual ecosystem. DWL’s land managers will be on the bus to answer questions and explain more about the history and ecology of the swamp.
Delaware Wild Lands is committed to long-term and large-scale habitat restoration in the Swamp. They have planted more than 200,000 trees there since 2011. Traditional uses continue on the land, including sustainable forestry, farming and hunting. Their management approach is reversing decades of degradation, and rehydrating hundreds of acres of freshwater wetlands.
A plethora of wildlife and birds are now thriving in the Great Cypress Swamp, including: wild turkeys, red-headed woodpeckers, river otters, carpenter frogs, bald eagles, wood ducks, teal and several other species of waterfowl.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.DeWildLands.org and, for adults, cost $25 in advance or $35 after May 5 and at the gate. Teens ages 13-17 pay $10. Kids 12 or younger will be admitted free of charge. The event will be held rain or shine. The stage and some seating are covered under a large bandshell tent. Guests are being advised to bring a folding chair.