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Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee’s Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

Sep 8, 2023

Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

The annual Summertown Bluegrass Reunion brought together local pickers and dancers of all ages in Summertown, Tennessee, over Labor Day weekend. Located just off Highway 64 in a forested Middle Tennessee field flanked by wooden fencing, pasture, and brightly colored bunting, the festival hosted a dance competition, shade tree band competition, and a main stage with open dancing for music lovers, as well as a snack shack slinging their famous white beans.

Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

The Summertown Bluegrass Reunion snack shack, serving famous white beans and more.

Saturday afternoon, Grand Ole Opry dancer Sarah Harris and her band took the stage, performing Stanley Brothers tunes like “I Think I’ll Just Go Away” and Flatt and Scruggs’ “Head Over Heels.” 

Saturday evening saw several hundred campers and ticket holders pour into the rural festival while event organizer and founder Terry Pierce wandered through the crowd to catch up with old friends and ensure everyone was having a great time. The fest has been a staple for more than two decades, and it’s always a hub for local musicians to gather.

Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

An open dance at the Summertown Bluegrass Reunion’s main stage.

Dancers from Tennessee and Alabama joined in the buck dancing competition as well, with some so young they needed a little assistance from a parent. Other youngsters held their own, showing off kicks, heel clicks and other moves. Two seniors competed as well. Flatfoot legend and 2017 NEA National Heritage Fellow Thomas Maupin attended, although he didn’t perform. Afterwards, guests were encouraged to take a dinner break and listen to the shade tree bands as they competed under the property’s canopy.

Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

The “Lil Doll” (age 10 and younger) dance competition.

Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

A band performs during the Shade Tree Band Competition.

Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

Another local bluegrass band performs in the Shade Tree Band competition.

During the evening’s main show, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, fiddle teacher Andy Spearman and his band, Wildcat Ridge, took the stage, and the crowd was treated to a performance by Tommy Jackson’s Rocky Top Revue, an award-winning square dancing team based in Franklin, Tennessee.

Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

Fiddler Andy Spearman jams during the Summertown Bluegrass Reunion.

Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion

Fiddler Andy Spearman and band, Wildcat Ridge, perform on the Summertown Bluegrass Reunion main stage.

While Summertown Bluegrass Reunion may not be the largest festival in the state, it’s full of homegrown music that fans have loved for generations, and they continue to turn out each year for the good tunes and fun times.


All photos by Lonnie Lee Hood.

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Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion
Pickers and Dancers Gather for Tennessee's Summertown Bluegrass Reunion