Almost half a decade ago, Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, founded the biggest music festival that celebrates this musical genre – the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. The festival does not only cater to fans located in Southern Indiana, but it is also open to all the lovers of bluegrass music worldwide. In 2011, the founders and organizers of the festival honored the centennial birthday of Bill Monroe. Aside from the festival’s connection to one of the pillars of country music, the festival’s history has a fascinating story to tell as well. In fact, a country musician and a longtime fan of the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, Thomas Adler wrote Bean Blossom: The Brown County Jamboree And Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Festivals to tell the story.
The Brown County Jamborees
Beanblossom or Bean Blossom is a town located in Brown County, Indiana and the beginnings of the present Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival starts here in the 1940s. During the decade, the town began organizing musical performances just along State Highway 135 to attract more people and have the town’s businesses and industries flourish. Beanblossom town was very close to the bus line that transports soldiers to the nearby Camp Atterbury and it was another contributing factor.The musical acts in the events became very popular because they were aired in Midwestern radio stations. Because of the success of the performances the venue was moved to the property of a grocer name Francis Rund. He built a large barn entirely to be the venue for performances. The shows were performed weekly and were dubbed the Brown Country Jamboree. They din’t have musical performances by local and national artists but rodeos and other forms of entertainment.
The Bluegrass Monroe Era
During the 1940s, William “Bill” Monroe rose to the country music scene with his iconic voice and bluegrass music. He was invited to perform in the Brown County Jamboree in October 1951 and quickly fell in love with the venue. He bought the land from the Rund family and had it established as the venue where he and his bandmates developed and performed their music for several decades. People speculated that the Rund family’s land reminded Monroe of his Kentucky hometown. Others guessed that it was his love for fox hunting which was abundant in the region while several noted how his decision was a response to his rival, Roy Acuff, who purchased his own music park before.
The country music park became a center for bluegrass music even during the rise of rock and roll in the following decades of the 1950s and 1960s. Accounts commented on how the Monroe brothers did their best to manage the venue and the festivals. Adler even stated how Monroe’s creation of the bluegrass festivals in the 1960s saved the town of Bean Blossom as the festivals revived the American’s passion and enthusiasm for roots music and spurred on a counter-culture that championed the revival of folk music. Bill Monroe launched the first Bluegrass Celebration in 1967 which garnered success and popularity over the next forty years.