Bluegrass Battles Hunger kicks off this weekend

·3 min read

Sep. 23—Organizers for Bluegrass Battles Hunger are excited to have the annual celebration back in full force.

Following the start of the pandemic, the annual festival and fundraiser took it slow in coming back. Now, it's ready to rock and collect food.

"It's really felt like a full year and that's really nice. I'm excited to be able to offer all of this to the community," said Tara Duckworth, secretary for Bluegrass Bettering Our Community.

Being held Sept. 23 and 24 at Coleman Hawkins Park at Felix Street Square, the festival will feature some of the best bluegrass bands from St. Joseph and the surrounding area.

Switching up the lineup a little bit from its past iterations, Friday's lineup will be a night of female-led performances, called "Women Battle Hunger." It will feature Stephanie Gummelt (5 p.m.), Distant Cousins (6 p.m.), Megan Luttrell (7 p.m.) and Sally & The Hurts (8 p.m.).

"This is our first time ever putting something together like this," Duckworth said.

On Saturday, it will feature a Community Jam (2 p.m.), the St. Joseph Arts Academy (3 p.m.), John L. Keck (4 p.m.), Dakota & The Angry Suitcase (5 p.m.), Whiskey For The Lady (6 p.m.), True North (7 p.m.) and The John Brown Boys (8 p.m.).

Both nights will raise money and food for the Second Harvest Community Food Bank.

"They're such an incredible asset to our community. And we're just really honored to be able to work with them and to use the arts to do so," Duckworth said.

Having survived the pandemic and helping feed families who've dealt with hunger because of it, Duckworth said they're happy to do it in a fun, creative way that brings the community together.

"It's been a real joy and privilege working on it, especially getting to know more people in the community. And in many ways, it's an education for myself in this kind of music," Duckworth said.

The annual festival is a collaboration between people on the Bluegrass Battle Hunger board of volunteers, as well as its sponsors like Victory Chevrolet. Duckworth said it's a labor-intensive, rewarding experience.

"It was created by (Second Harvest CEO) Chad Higdon as a leadership St. Joseph project. He did it in honor of his brother who loved bluegrass music. So it's also just this really sweet commemorative experience as well," she said.

When it comes to the music, organizers said they hope people come with an open mind, ready to tap their toes and hear some new bands that don't normally come to the area.

"Maybe people weren't exposed to it before, now they get to come out and see bands and see that it is people of all ages and people of all genders performing and sharing their experiences. And I hope that we can really bring a new generation into the love of bluegrass," Duckworth said.

The event is free and open to all ages.

Andrew Gaug can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @NPNOWGaug