DelFest is back again, and the festival had fans elated from start to finish.
DelFest 2023 was once again a truly magical experience. The family-friendly festival took place on the picturesque Cumberland Fairgrounds over Memorial Day weekend, and the stunning surroundings and perfect weather set the stage for an unforgettable weekend.
Showcasing almost 40 bands, the lineup was stacked with incredible talent, from bluegrass legends like Del McCoury and The Travelin’ McCourys to up-and-coming stars like Sierra Ferrell and 2023 Grammy-winning Molly Tuttle. There was something for everyone at DelFest, and the festival’s diverse lineup allowed fans to discover new music and expand their musical horizons. The Gibson Brothers summed it up best during their set, saying one of the things they love about DelFest is that there are all different types of music. They then went into a great rendition of “They call it music.”
In addition to the traditional DelFest musical styles, several bands also paid tribute to Gordon Lightfoot and Tina Turner who both passed away recently.
You know the festival is incredible when you see other artists in the audience when they aren’t on stage. Keller Williams commented, “Watching Del at DelFest is a fantastic thing to experience. If anyone can do this within the sound of my voice, I think it’s something that should be experienced.”
“The 15th annual DelFest was pure magic. I’m fortunate enough to have the experience from both the artist and festival-goer perspective. They are both as good as it gets,” Jody Mosser from The Plate Scrapers said. “As an artist, I’m blown away by the openness of collaboration. This year my wife and I brought our one-and-half-year-old daughter to experience her first DelFest. We had the best time in the back of the music meadow with all the other parents and kids. This festival truly caters to all ages whether you like to get up front to boogie or hang back and watch your kids have the time of their lives.”
D.C., Maryland and Virginia were well represented with bands like Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Cris Jacobs, Dirty GrassPlayers, The Plate Scrapers, Caleb Stine, Justin Trawick and the Common Good and more. Cumberland resident Bill Rudd could be seen enjoying the festival and providing DelBows, the traditional DelFest greeting.
“Everything I scroll through on all my social media feeds right now is people who do festival stuff year-round, and they’re all so incredibly moved by Delfest,” Rudd noted. “How lucky are we to have the combination of McCourys and the Cumberland community create something so magical? It’s the true light side of the force working through all of us. #DelYeah!”
There were a number of bands playing DelFest for the first time.
“I loved DelFest,” Justin Trawick, who played during the Saturday morning Bloody Mary Bar said. “All the bands were so amazing. It was such a thrill to be walking around the festival grounds after our set and having people who had never heard us before, one after the other come up to me saying how much they enjoyed our show. It felt really good to be there. I can’t wait to go back.”
DelFest was also a celebration of not only great music but also the Del-loving community. The festival is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and it was clear that everyone was there to have a good time and make new friends. Engagements are somewhat of a DelFest tradition, this year Lindsey Croll and Nick Mich got engaged on May 25 during DelFest.
One of the highlights of DelFest was the opportunity to see incredible collaborations between some of the biggest names in bluegrass. DMV local Frank Solivan was the Artist at Large and sat in with Dre Anders, The Gibson Brothers, AJ Lee, and also the Sunday gospel set. Frank also participated in a creekside video session.
In addition to the Troubadour Sessions with Lindsy Lou and Anna Moss; Baltimore’s Cris Jacobs delighted fans both during his daytime and late-night sets. He was joined by a host of guest musicians as well.
Another highlight of DelFest was the DelFest Academy. This program gives musicians of all levels the chance to learn from and play alongside some of the biggest names in bluegrass. The Academy is a unique and immersive experience that helps to foster growth and create connections among participants. The 113 participants are divided into bands for a TV show-styled competition. This year’s Academy-winning band the Knotty Pines played on the main stage Thursday afternoon.
DelFest also offered several special opportunities for drink lovers. The Brewers Association of Maryland (BAM) showcased local Maryland beers with DelFest-themed tribute beers in both a presale and samples. On Wednesday night before the start of the festival, there was a beer share for deluxe ticket holders. In addition to the beer donated by local breweries, the participants brought beers from their favorite breweries. This gives people a chance to catch up with friends they may only see once a year and to make new “beerst” friends.
The McCoury family believes in giving back to the community. The DelFest Foundation has provided over $600,000 in grants to Western Maryland. Proceeds from the festival beer sales, the Brewers Association of Maryland beer sales, the raffle, and Del’s Army food drive go to the foundation and the Western Maryland Food Bank. Additionally, McClintock Distilling donated part of the proceeds from the 1200 Bloody Marys sold. This year Del accepted a Governor Wes Moore Citation to both the Del McCoury Family and the DelFest Foundation which have made many lasting contributions to our community and the great State of Maryland.
Overall, DelFest 2023 was a truly unforgettable experience. The festival’s great music, friendly atmosphere, and opportunity for collaboration made it a must-attend event for fans of bluegrass and Americana music. Wondering if you should attend next year? The answer is DelYeah!
Photo by Mark Raker // BrewTography.
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