One of the highlights of the calendar year in Claremore Oklahoma has to be its Bluegrass & Chilli festival which is held during the month of September around the first weekend. This is festival was founded in 1996 to pay homage to the state’s Bluegrass musical roots. While this is deemed to be a sub-genre of country music inspired by the folk music of the Appalachia, it is actually a fusion of Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English traditional music after immigrants from the British Isles settled in the area in the 1900’s and the influenced by the musical style of African-Americans, that incorporated jazz and blues into the mix. The festival was originally set up as a non profit organization and continues to support musical educational opportunities including scholarships for budding local musicians.
Each year, this three-day festival draws over 15,000 attendees and 2013’s event runs from the 5th to the 7th inclusive. It guarantees a weekend of family fun with live music, exhibitions, demonstrations, shows and competitions so you will find something to keep everyone entertained regardless of their individual tastes and interests. The event opens at 4pm on weekdays until 11pm but is open from 11am to 11pm on weekends. One of the main events – and there is a big clue here in the name of this festival – is the Mid-America Regional Chilli Cook-off where wannabe chefs from all over the county and beyond compete to see whose dish receives the coveted winning title. Competitors are split into 4 groups – divided under the headings International Chili Society (ICS) Sanctioned Division, Non-Profit Division, “Open Division” and Corporate Chili Challenge – and the winner of the ICS cook-off also gets the opportunity to represent the Mid-America Regional in October at the World Cook Off. Festival attendees can also taste the results of the competitors’ efforts with samples available for the general public after all chili has been cooked and handed over to the official judges.
There is also a wide range of arts and crafts on display, many of which are influenced by the state’s strong Native American influences and alongside stalls selling wares to take home, you will find craftsman demonstrating how the items were made and information about the history behind the process involved. Car enthusiasts will enjoy the Open Car Show and Antique Tractor Pull while children can learn and play at cowboys in the Kiddie Korral. There are also talent contests including Junior Showcase for younger visitors and a Vocal Competition for older children and adults along with Dance exhibitions and a variety of live music acts spread across three main stage areas. Many of the popular acts performing here return year after year while visitors flock to hear this traditional mix of country, blues & folk music genres performed using instruments synonymous to the region like the Banjo, Fiddle, Mandolin and Dobro played alongside acoustic guitar or upright bass.