Bluegrass at the Lake plus blue-green algae at Marion Reservoir possibly led to record attendance this weekend at Marion County Park and Lake.
“It was probably the busiest weekend I’ve worked since I started eight years ago,” Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson said Monday. “We sold over 91 camping permits this weekend alone, and that did not include the 10 to 12 campers that registered earlier in the week.”
Hudson said campers congregated for Saturday’s concerts, which included performances on an open stage followed by two upbeat, yard-stomping bluegrass bands —Eighty Proof Engine and Fast Food Junkies.
In past years, turnout was generally around 250. Concertgoers this year numbered around 500.
Audience members sat on an east-facing sunny hillside overlooking a stage beside a swimming area, and the lake beyond. Some came just to watch and listen, others to perform in the open-stage competition.
“We had about 6 or 7 acts sign up for the open stage,” Hudson said. “80 Proof Engine won open-stage last year and they ended up headlining it with Fast Food Junkies this year. Both seem to have quite a few followers.”
Blending bluegrass and gospel in a sincere performance, The McKinney Sisters traveled from Moundridge to claim first place in the competition.
Their band name isn’t a play on words. They are literally sisters. In addition to sharing the same last name, each spells her first name with a “y”. Daryl, Randyl, and Mikyl have played together for three years.
“We love the old-fashioned sound of bluegrass,” 20 year-old guitar player Daryl said. “And the Christian message. The gospel is important to us.”
The McKinney Sisters were awarded $300 and asked to perform an encore.
There was a tie for second place between a band composed of musicians at Agco, The Engineers, and another band based out of Abilene that was missing their usual fiddle player who billed themselves as “One Fiddler Shy” just for the competition. Each band was awarded $150 for their performances.
Marion County bassist Doug Kjellin and guitarists Alan Pollard and Galen Obermeyer also performed as a nameless trio during competition. Their outfit played several classic rock songs including a version of “Sweet Child of Mine.”
Other acts included a fiddle player from Newton, and a guitar player from Cedar Point, as well as a couple of others.
Hudson said this was the last year lake resident and sound engineer for the event Roy Patton would be able to offer his assistance.
“We’re going to have a hard time replacing him,” Hudson said. “He also helped us with movie nights we did at the lake last year. He had all the equipment.”
The event raised $4,220.25, which will pay for the restoration of the lake stage, Husdson said. Any leftover proceeds will help with lake upkeep.