More than 650 Musicians Set for Iowa's Old Time Music Festival, 8/27-9/2


Sometimes it seems like we hear the creaking of Conestoga wagons as they slowly travel the prairie lands of Iowa, looking for a place to settle. Le Mars is a good stopping point."

Bob Everhart, Iowa Public Television host, and recording artist for the Smithsonian Institution, is keen about pioneers and the prairie, especially their music.

"We don't hear the creaking of wagons much anymore," he added, "but we sure hear the creak of huge RV campers as they twist around to park in the large campground we have in LeMars. The Plymouth County Fairgrounds, where we have our annual old-time music festival has lots and lots of electrical hook-ups, just right for anyone planning to spend some time with us, August 27-September 2nd. We might not hear the creaks, but we sure hear the music those early pioneers brought with them in their Conestoga wagons. Actually there's only one gathering place in the Great Plains big enough to host the largest, and oldest, gathering of like-minded folks celebrating America's musical heritage."

Bob Everhart has been the President of the National Traditional Country Music Association since 1975. "We've been saving and savoring the music of our pioneers, here in Iowa, for 37 years now. In that time we've managed to create a festival of traditional music that attracts no less than 650 music makers. We've become the largest and the oldest one that maintains the sweetness of America's early rural music in mid-America. It takes ten sound stages to accommodate that many musicians, and those stages run from 9am to midnight every day for seven days. The gamut of musical genres done in an acoustic style run all the way from early mountain music, to the latest bluegrass. In between you're sure to find hillbilly music, country and western music, rural music, even old-time polka and back porch music. We have six dances in our old-time dance hall just to accommodate the many styles the pioneers enjoyed. As a matter of fact we are kicking off this year's event with a Monday night dance featuring as many as 35 Norwegian accordionists. We're doing this to honor their favorite daughter Lynn Anderson, who is Norwegian. She will be with us on Saturday, Sept. 1, so we expect a lot of her fans throughout the week."

Sheila Everhart, Bob's wife who helps direct the festival has strong feelings about the gathering. "This event is sort of the voice of the prairie lands when it comes to music and song. When the pioneers originally came here, their only musical entertainment was what they could carry in the back of a covered wagon. They were lucky if they had an old-time fiddler with them, and we still welcome, with open arms, anyone who plays the fiddle today. We even have a lot of what they used to call the poor-man's fiddle, the French harp. Introduced to America in 1862, today it's called the harmonica. We have a lot of harmonica players at our festival, we even have a "Harmonica Hoot" a get-together of harmonica players, all in the same key playing the same song.....beautifully. What a refreshing change this is from what we are offered in music today on radio and television as country music."