Idaho State Journal story on Pocatello Festival

interesting story on the Idaho State Journal online about Diana Morgan who started the Pocatello Bannock County Bluegrass Festival.  Go to the story online to see a short video interview with Diana and a little footage from the festival.

Bluegrass bringer: Woman started music festival in Pocatello

Idaho State Journal Article

Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal Diana Morgan is the president of the Bannock County Bluegrass Association that's putting on the 7th annual Bluegrass Festival at the Bannock County Fairgrounds, Friday through Sunday. featured

Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 3:59 am | Updated: 4:02 am, Sat Aug 28, 2010.

By John O’Connell | 1 comment

POCATELLO — Diana Morgan, of Darrington, Wash., depleted the bulk of her personal savings in her effort to make a bluegrass festival she started at the Bannock County Fairgrounds a viable community event.

“I was born and raised in Pocatello. I just wanted to bring my music here,” Morgan said. “I think it’s great music, something our ancestors brought over from Ireland and England. It’s the roots of country music actually.”

When it appeared Morgan would have to give up on the festival after its fifth year without substantial growth, she changed her approach. She started the nonprofit organization, called the Bannock County Bluegrass Association. Since then, her luck has changed.

The association has helped generate contributions from a host of corporations, and the local board members have helped volunteer to staff the event. Attendance has also been up — last year between 1,000 and 1,500 people attended the weekend festival. It was by far the event’s biggest crowd, and it was the first year that Morgan finished in the black.

This year, she anticipates duplicating that success. Indeed, the Bannock County Bluegrass Festival appears to be growing just as the festival she started 34 years ago in Darrington has.

“We broke our record this year (in Darrington). We had between 8,000 and 9,000 there,” Morgan said. “We couldn’t hold that many if we had that at the fairgrounds. We’d have to have one in the Minidome.”

Musicians at the event assist with music workshops, and for the first time this year, a workshop is also scheduled for children.

The Seventh Annual Bannock County Bluegrass Festival started Friday and continues through Sunday at the fairgrounds, hosted at a new stage with a grassy seating area.

Q: You mentioned corporate sponsorship helped keep your bluegrass festival afloat. Who are some of those sponsors?

A: We’ve got Simplot and Agrium, Portneuf Medical Center, we’ve got just a ton of sponsors that have put forth either money or something to help out.

Q: How much do tickets cost?

A: If they come for the whole weekend it’s $35. Friday is $10. Saturday is $15 and Sunday is $10.

Q: How is the talent this year?

A: One of our best ones is Cold Creek. They’re from Salt Lake City. They’re extremely talented people. Every year when they come, everybody just loves them. We have New South Fork that’s from Idaho Falls. We have Tradition. They come from Nampa. They’re a really good band. We have a young group called the Panhandle Polecats. They’re from the panhandle of Idaho. They’re young kids.

Q: How do the bands get paid?

A: They get a gate split. We split all ticket sales with the bands.

Q: That must have been tough on some of the bands in those early years. How many people showed up for the first festival?

A: We had 150 the first year. I think each band made about $300. It did grow a little each year.

Q: Why do you think attendance has increased in this slower economy?

A: I think people are doing things closer to home. They’re finding their entertainment closer to home instead of traveling around. And I think after seven years with word of mouth, people come and they like it, and they tell somebody, “Next year you need to go.” People are starting to discover what bluegrass is, and they like it.

Q: How far are people traveling to come to this event?

A: My sister said she had a call from somebody in Florida. We’re drawing from California and all sorts of different places.

Posted in on Saturday, August 28, 2010 3:59 am. Updated: 4:02 am

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