Friday, June 11, 2010

American Heritage Music Festival - 2010

Our fellow club members, Gary and Donna Balch, recommended we join them in Grove, Oklahoma for the American Heritage Music Festival. I Googled the event and it promised to provide a weekend of fun, family entertainment, i.e., Dobro contest, flat picking contest, banjo/mandolin contest, spoons and bones, and of course, fiddle and clogging contests.

According to the online literature, clogging is a "folk dance of the Appalachians," and dates back over 400 years. Supposedly, it was brought to America by immigrants through our English ancestry. Clogging has become a very popular form of dance and is now represented by America's Clogging Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1981 and is dedicated to the preservation of old time square dance and clogging.

Gary and Donna were unable to make the trip because of mechanical issues with their rig, but we came anyway. Donna recommended Cedar Oaks RV Resort on Grand Lake, which turned out to be a great recommendation.

This park is beautiful at first sight. Tall, mature trees at each RV site and throughout the park on the shore of Grand Lake. The roads through the park are a combination of asphalt and gravel, but all sites have a concrete patio with full hookups. No cable TV, but excellent WI-FI service. When we arrived to check in Thursday evening, we noticed several guests sitting on lawn chairs and visiting outside their rigs. Others were playing cards in one of the four club rooms, while many were gathered listing to a live music performance at another. What a nice place!

Cedar Oaks is owned and operated by Merle & Beverly Coke. The park is situated at 1550 83rd St., NW, Grove, Oklahoma 74344. It's 1 mile south of Sailboat Bridge on Hwy. 59. For reservations, call 1-800-880-8884, or visit

After checking in and returning to the coach to drive to our assigned site, the Cummins 350 refused to start. All the dash lights and buzzers worked, but the engine wouldn't turn over. Well, here's our first, and hopefully last, opportunity to try out our Good Sams Emergency Roadside coverage.

Now, many years and several pounds ago, I would have simply slid underneath the coach with a few wrenches, tapped on the starter solenoid and tightened a few nuts, and with a little luck, off we'd go. But our nation is in a recession, and if our government won't do anything to improve the economy, I guess Suz and I must do our part. So, a $213.00 service call (which should be reimbursed by Good Sams) to Tim Reed of Reed's Truck Service got us going. Tim is the former service manager at Cabin Diesel Services in Big Cabin, Oklahoma. He's gone out on his own and carries with him 30 years of experience. If you should ever find yourself in need of a diesel mechanic in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma, I recommend Tim Reed (918-813-9595).

Newmar Corporation, the manufacturer of our Mountain Aire, did a good job designing the coach works and simplifying the setup procedure. As a result, we were plugged in, slides out, and water hooked up in no time. Ahh, Suz and I just love the dual high-output air-conditioners.

The next morning we took a tour of Grove and Grand Lake. Sailboat Bridge is a local landmark that is part of Hwy. 59 and takes you into Grove . . . .

We stopped for a bite of lunch at Drake's Restaurant, which serves up home-cooked meals. So good we're going back for breakfast tomorrow morning! But we don't recommend El Vallarta Mexican Restaurant (yuck) or Antique Alley (over-priced).

The Music Festival officially got kicked off today (Friday), but after checking in, we discovered that the day's activities are primarily workshops for the musicians. So, we spent the afternoon at Har-Ber Village.

Suz had never visited Har-Ber Village, and I had only visited it once before back in the early 1980s. I remember it to be just a few shops along the water's edge. It has since grown to a sprawling museum of reconstructed log cabins containing numerous antiques. Harvey and Bernice Jones dedicated the Village in "a sincere effort to preserve for future generations the way of life as experienced by our forefathers who carved out of the wilderness this wonderful country we know and enjoy today." Here's what we saw . . . .

Because of his interest in antique tractors and farm machinery, Suz said her Dad would have loved this place.

The picture in the upper, lower left, corner is of an 1800s courtroom. I just had to have that one, as well as the one of the "Law Office" sign on the lower left.

On the way back to the park from Har-Ber Village, we couldn't help but stop and shoot a couple of pictures that caught our eye. The following pic is in honor of our dear cousin, Jami Sue. In light of her keen ability to spot a bargain, we noticed "Cheapo Depo." If you're ever in the Grove area, Jami, be sure to stop and check it out. Just don't bring no soybean burgers to my house!

All I can say for the following picture is: "Only in Oklahoma!"

It's Saturday afternoon and we're on our way to the Music Festival. But on the way, I found the ultimate go-kart . . . .

This little buggy is called a "Zini American." It's manufactured in the U.S. and sells new for approximately $8,000. This model is a 2008 and the dealer took it in on trade for a new golf cart. He's asking $4,000 and it looks brand new. It's powered by a Subaru 504cc motor and runs about 35 mph. The neat thing about it is that it's tagged and street legal (limited to 45 mph streets). If I only had an extra $4,000 and a way to get it home.

Well, maybe I can pick up a little extra money here . . . .

Are you kidding? My luck's just not that good. Let's head for the festival!

Contestants and observers came from all parts of the country. A map of the U.S. was situated at the entrance and we were asked to place a stick-pin on our home town. I even noticed a pin placed on a small town in Alaska.

The Grove Civic Center, where the Festival took place, is a former Walmart store. The building was divided into halves and clogging took place on one side, while fiddling occurred on the other. Vendors were available selling various items, including jewelry, purses, musical instruments, and of course, wonderful pastries and goodies. We arrived just in time to see the clogging finalists perform. Some contestants were members of a team from Kansas who won the National Clogging Championship (Click on the arrow below and watch the competition).

All that clogging worked up my appetite, so while Suz was shopping for a leather purse, I secured some cinnamon rolls for tomorrow's breakfast. We then took an afternoon break and returned to the coach to let Maynard "take care of his business." The Festival resumed at 7:00 p.m., and the following pictures are a sampling of what occurred . . . .

The Festival was founded by the "First Lady of Country Fiddle," Jana Jae. You may recall (those of you old enough to remember) that Jana played with the Buck Owens Band back in the 1970s and also on Hee Haw. Jana has made her home in Grove, Oklahoma, and has sponsored the Festival for 13 years. Jana is a phenomenal fiddler, and a "can't miss" if you ever get a chance to see her perform. Her parents, "Daddy Joe" and Bette, also play and performed with her on stage during the Festival . . . .

The highlight of the show, however, was "Hankerin' for Hank," which is a tribute band to the late, great Hank Williams. Hank is performed by Jim Paul Blair, who attended OSU with Susan's nephew, Jerry Clayton Abel, Jr. Jerry and Jim became close friends while attending college and remain in touch today. I'm usually pretty critical about so-called "tribute bands," but this group was great! Jim has Hank Williams down pat, including his voice and mannerisms.

Jana accompanied Jim with her fiddle. What a show!

Other than the minor delay with the starter solenoid, this turned out to be a great trip. In fact, we plan to make the American Heritage Music Festival in Grove an annual event. Thanks for the recommendation Gary and Donna. It would have only been better if you'd been here with us!

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