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The Last Windrow: Bluegrass festival livens up Pine River

The first musical instrument sound I probably ever heard, outside of the organ at my church baptism, was probably that twang of a rhythm guitar.

My dad picked up the guitar during his hitch in the Army Air Corps in World War II and he brought the guitar home with him to the western Iowa farmland he called home. I can still hear the St. Louis Blues being played from that old farmhouse parlor.

That sound must have impregnated itself into my infant brain cells because I've never tired of hearing it. Our community of Pine River, Minnesota, is going to hear a lot of guitar twanging, fiddle playing, banjo picking, mandolin strumming and bass thumping this week as the Lakes Bluegrass Festival comes to town.

Bluegrass music lovers are special folks. They come from all walks of life from laborers to professional people to the retired community. Young and old, it makes no difference when you're sitting in on a jam session and picking out a tune on your "git-fiddle"!

Those who haven't been to a bluegrass festival don't have any idea of how much music is played on the grounds during one of these events. Not only is the main stage busy with professional musicians, but you can find a jam session almost every 30 feet as you roam through the lines of RV campers.

Sometimes I think people get as much a kick out of playing music with their neighbors as actually watching a show.

I do a little picking on a guitar once in awhile, but arthritis has entered my finger joints making it tough to make a grand bar. I've devolved into a c/a/g/d chord player. But a lot of music is played on those chords, so I can still hit most of the notes.

You bring your own seats at a bluegrass festival. Lawn chairs or camping chairs abound across the front of the stage and back to the all-weather tent. Once planted, many of those chairs remain in place throughout the whole festival. A real bluegrass fan would never remove or move someone else's chair without permission. Heaven forbid!

There is old-time honor among bluegrass fans. They still trust each other. I like that. These are the kinds of people who still leave their keys in their car.

So, as of Wednesday afternoon, RVs began flowing into the concert grounds and their owners pulled out their awnings, put a rug in front of the front door, dragged out the lawn chairs and began four days of unbridled music.

If you're in our Pine River area this week, stop by for a visit! You'll not want to leave early!