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RVing the Bean Blossom Festival

Bean Blossom, Ind., is the home of Bill Monroe and the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Music Festival. If you love bluegrass music, you’ll love this little town in the hills of Brown Country, Ind.

This music festival has been held for the past 47 years and RVers and tent campers flock in to get their favorite camping sites. The first fellow that I talked with has been using the same prime campsite since 2000. Dozens of motorhomes, fifth wheels, towables and tent campers entered on the first day of the Bluegrass Festival beginning opening day and continuing for nine straight days.

Twelve hours before any scheduled performance, more than 100 folding chairs were placed in prime spots directly in front of the stage. Hundreds of spectators on chairs and blankets will listen to the music during each day of the festival.

Ten music events are generally scheduled at the Bill Monroe Park between mid April and October. Most events run for a partial week or weekend including the Bill Monroe Hall of Fame and Uncle Pen Days Festival. Bikers and gospel events are also scheduled.

The main event of the season is the annual Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival which features 55 bands playing bluegrass music from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. for nine full days. Daily workshops, a youth bluegrass camp, the traditional “bean supper,” the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Uncle Pen’s Cabin are among the other optional highlights.

It is wise to register early and plan to attend the entire event if you wish to rent a cabin or a preferred camping site.

The Bluegrass Hall of Fame is situated at the entrance to the Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park and Campground. On display are hundreds of photographs, plaques and memorabilia of Bill Monroe and dozens of other famous bluegrass performers including Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Flatts and Scruggs, Little Jimmy Dickens and others. Entrance is free with your ticket to the bluegrass festival.

The festival grounds can be reached from the north and south on Indiana Hwy. 135 and from the east and west on Indiana Hwy. 46. Other roads approaching Bean Blossom are less RV friendly.

Bluegrass performers range in age from 10 to 80-plus years of age, and in size from 75 to 350 pounds. They arrive by car, van or by Prevost motorhome, depending on their affluence. They dress in suits and ties or jeans and boots. They jealously protect their guitars, mandolins, bass fiddles, banjos and their talent.

They come from the hills, valleys, town and cities of the great states of Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and throughout the United States. Of those that I have heard thus far it seems that the challenge is to see which band can play the loudest and fastest songs. They do play loud and fast. It is not clear to me how those seated directly in front of the stage can withstand the impact of the high volume of music that thunders from the loudspeakers, but they seem to enjoy it all.

There are groups with real talent and there are those with less ability, but all seem to have fun and enjoy the opportunity to entertain their audience. It is an honor to be invited to perform at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Music Festival.

To my untrained ear some of the music is good and some is less than good. However, a fellow seated next to me during one performance said, “This is bullxxxx!!! How can a group sing in one key and play in another key? “ I replied, “You know too much about music, I didn’t even notice the different keys.”

Saying that he couldn’t stand any more of that low caliber of music he left the area. I stayed and appreciated the performers energy and enthusiasm. Some of the very best music is performed at jam sessions held each evening among the RV sites some distance from the stage.

The campground at the Bill Monroe Park has approximately 300 sites with 30-amp electric and fresh water hookups. The park recently added 50-amp sites. There are two dump stations, but it may be wise to bring a Blue Boy waste tank if you are staying the full 10 days of the festival.

Primitive campsites are located in a field away from the main campground. Tent sites are available.

This park has few amenities that appeal to most RVers when selecting an RV park, although most are wooded sites. There is really nothing except the sites and the music. Restrooms and showers are located in a single location near the stage and amphitheater. Site costs range from $17.12 per day for primitive camping to $33.17 per day for 50-amp RV sites. Camping costs are separate from performance costs. Each attendee must pay for each day that they are on site.

For more information about the campground, click here.

The 49th annual Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival takes place June 13 to 20. For more information, including ticket prices and a schedule of performers, click here.

 

About Dr. Bob Gorden

Dr. Bob Gorden is an RVer, hiker and writer. He has a PhD in microbial ecology from the University of Georgia in Athens. He is a retired research scientist from the University of Illinois Natural History Survey. He has owned and operated more than 55 RVs of various types, and has visited every state, except Hawaii, in his RV. He also traveled by RV in New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. He currently owns and travels in a 1978 GMC 26-foot Class A and 2013 Thor ACE 30.1 Class A motorhome. He has a compelling desire to be “On the Road Again!”

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