An Overview of California Bluegrass Festivals

The 2020 coronavirus might have, at best, taken the banjos, guitars and fiddles to YouTube. But with luck the acoustic strings shall return in 2022.

If one appreciates bluegrass music, one need not hire a bluegrass band to hear it, nor need they follow the social media page of the best local bluegrass band in the city. They need only be in the know of where and when their favorite California bluegrass festival is scheduled.

The current state of bluegrass festivals in California might be summarized in three ways. One is memories of those many and celebrated events prior to the onset of the coronavirus in 2020. Second, it’s the handful of online events during the pandemic. And third, there are the festivals to come, once live events are deemed safe.

Those events of the past – which everyone hopes will return as early as 2022 – are:

California Bluegrass Association events: Great48/Bakersfield (January), CBA Spring Campout/Lodi (April), CBA Music Camp/Grass Valley (June), Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival/Grass Valley (June), Golden Old Time Campout/Geyserville (August), and DBA Fall Campout/Lodi (October)

Also, other California bluegrass festivals from other producers, by month.

Blythe Bluegrass Festival (January)

Redwood City (January)

Sonoma County Bluegrass Festival/Sebastopol (March)

Temecula Bluegrass Festival (April)

Folkworks Folk and Roots Festival/Los Angeles (April)

Brookdale Bluegrass Festival (*April)

Festival of the Mandolins/San Francisco (April)

Cloverdale Fiddle Festival (May)

Santa Cruz Bluegrass Fair (May)

Parkfield Bluegrass Festival (May)

Calico Mother’s Day Bluegrass/Yermo (May)

Berkeley Bluegrass Festival (May)

Topanga Fiddle•Banjo Contest and Folk Festival/Agoura Hills (May)

Strawberry Music Festival/Grass Valley (May)

Bluegrass Festival/Susanville *June)

Saw Festival/Felton (August)

Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival/Hollister (August)

Rivertown Revival/Petaluma (August)

Jug Band Festival/Sutter Creek (August)

River Ranch Music Festival/Tuolumne (August)

Pub in the Park/Redwood City (June-September)

Strawberry Music Festival/Tuolumne (September)

Millpond Music Festival/Bishop (September)

Old Time Music Convention/Berkeley (September)

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass/San Francisco (October)

Huck Finn Jubilee/Ontario (October)

Mountain Music Day/Yucaipa (October)

Ramona Bluegrass and Old West Fest (October)

Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention & Festival/Goleta (October)

In 2020, a handful of enterprising organizers took their festivals online. As with all things virtual, these were a little bit more than placeholders for the “real thing,” although many would argue they took the music to the four corners of the world. One such group was the Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival, which was held online 8/8/2020. For almost three hours of pure bluegrass enjoyment, you can watch it online here.

What the future holds in 2022 is anyone’s guess at this point. But the success of so many bluegrass festivals in California alone for many years suggests a surge of interest and attendance – and great music from months of socially distanced practice – will bring musicians and fans together once again.