Bluegrass and gospel festival benefits BCHS
Photo by Sean Allen, Brant News
Siblings John Jackson, left, and Anne Marie Jackson perform as part of family bluegrass band Lonesome Meadow at the Conestoga Trail Bluegrass and Gospel Festival on Saturday afternoon.
When Fran and Gerry Morgan were looking for a charity back in 2008 to benefit from their passion for bluegrass and gospel music, the Brant Community Healthcare System was an easy choice.
"Everybody needs a hospital," Fran said. "There are all kinds of charities out there and every one of them is excellent, but when anyone gets sick the first thing they need is the hospital.
"For us, that was the key piece. The hospital is the first line of defence."
Now five years after choosing the BCHS as the Conestoga Trail Bluegrass and Gospel Festival's primary beneficiary, the Morgans are looking forward to topping $30,000 in donations raised during the sixth annual festival.
"Actually, the hospital folks surprised me on Friday by bringing a sign that shows off our more than $25,000 in donations to this point," Fran said. "It was really nice of them and makes us feel good."
The Morgans and other festival volunteers work tirelessly during the three-day music festival at the Morgan's farm outside of Princeton to not only make sure everyone enjoys themselves, but that money is raised for the hospital.
"We use daily 50-50 draws, a book sale, silent auction and guitar raffle to raise the money," Fran said.
The donated money is used by the Brant Community Healthcare System to pay for medical equipment that is not paid for by the Ontario government and to provide essential resources to maintain a high level of compassionate care at the hospitals.
As avid bluegrass and gospel fans, Fran and Gerry vet every band before they are invited to perform at the festival. The couple want to make sure the performers are family-friendly, talented and sociable.
"All the bands here like to meet with the crowd and talk to their fans," Fran said. "It's part of the atmosphere we make sure we have each year."
This year, seven bands from across Canada and the United States performed, including Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver of Tennessee, The Bluegrass Martins of Missouri, Mountain Faith of North Carolina, Lonesome Meadow of Ohio, as well as Canadian acts Rhyme and Reason, Rescue Junction and Davis and Grant.
Fran said she knows the festival continues to grow because they have to rent a bigger tent with each passing year.
"A lot of our attendees come in RVs and stay for all three days," she said. "They all go from festival to festival with this type of music. They are not wild partiers here and we don't tolerate rowdiness.
"It's a family festival you can take your grandmother to."
The Morgans not only want to share the talented musicians with fans in this area of southern Ontario, but the festival also includes workshops where music teachers show amateurs the ropes of bluegrass instruments.
"If a beginner wants to learn how to play the dobro, we have a workshop for that," Fran said. "It's a way to encourage young people.
"A lot of the performers we have are very young and often times it insures other young people will take an interest. We want to help feed that interest with the workshops."