2nd Bluegrass Festival a hit

Published 4:13 pm Monday, June 7, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- This past weekend's second annual Niles Bluegrass Festival proved to be a refreshing and successful event that brought music and people to downtown Niles.
With a full slate of bluegrass music scheduled on the amphitheater stage each day, a brand new interactive picker's tent, arts and crafts booths and concession stands, the festival offered a little something for everyone.
And Riverfront Park provided the perfect venue for people to spend a day outdoors along the St. Joseph River.
The Niles Riverfest Committee sponsored the festival with the help of local businesses. All profits from the event will go toward sponsoring the Niles Riverfest 2004 in August.
The event's organizer, Tom Majerek, a big fan of bluegrass music, began the festival last year and envisioned it as a fun way to bring music to Niles and a way to gather the community together.
Majerek hopes the festival will continue to grow and become recognized as a fun event unique to Niles. He would eventually like to see the first weekend in June become synonymous with the bluegrass festival.
He said not only will people have a great time at the event, but they will also become familiar with the city and what it has to offer.
Majerek was pleased with the event's turnout on Saturday and expected a couple of thousand people to stop by the park to check it out.
Larry Martin, guitarist for the Tennessee-based Hard Times Bluegrass Band, is a former resident of the area who travelled 12 hours just play some bluegrass in his old stomping grounds.
Martin, who moved from Michigan to Tennessee in 1981, was impressed with the Riverfront Park venue and the quality of the festival put on by a city of Niles' size.
Niles resident Rhoda Phillips, who was enjoying the music of the main stage from her lawn chair, was also impressed by the Niles festival.
Phillips, who moved to Niles from Alabama in January, said bluegrass is a popular genre down South with events like fiddler's conventions and jam sessions called pickins', but she had never seen a complete festival dedicated to the music.
Mark Anderson was another Niles resident taking in the music from the lawn in front of the amphitheater. He had such a good time at last year's festival, he decided to make it a yearly event.
Though Anderson is not a bluegrass fanatic, as a musician himself he was thoroughly impressed by the talent present at the festival.
By having such a complete festival and such a great place to hold it at, Anderson was another person that thinks Niles really has something going with this event.