DelFest is the second largest bluegrass festival in America, held annually in Cumberland, Maryland. Named after Del McCoury and featuring some of the most talented bluegrass musicians and some of the best up-and-comers.

Simply put, Molly is one of the best acoustic guitarists of my generation. I’m not sure the rest of the family enjoyed her as much as I did, though Kent and Lottie did get to come up front and see the amazing banjo and fiddle players. Kent really wants to learn banjo and keeps trying to steal mine.

A little delayed because of Denver. Sunday was a chill day with a Gospel-filled— and ice cream filled— morning with Dré Anders, an attempt at rafting in the Potomac, and then Molly Tuttle, Del McCoury Band, and Sam Bush in the evening.

The fun pairings and jams you get at DelFest are just great. Enjoy this take of California Honeydrops’ Other Shore with The Del McCoury Band.

The Price Sisters made a great impression on my daughter, which is one of the things I was most hoping for outta the week at DelFest. I want my kids to love music as much as I do and to see where it can take them— not just to big stages, but the joy it brings others.

The kids were really wanting to play in the Potomac on Saturday, so we slid down to the river and splashed around in the fridgid water for a while. We also got to see the Price Sisters and the Infamous Stringdusters perform. Lottie was absolutely obsessed with the Price Sisters— twin gals full of talent and super down-to-earth.

Way too many folks at DelFest told me that I had to see the California Honeydrops. Had never heard of them and it was a 10pm show. Well, I am glad I went to see them. My wife, God bless her, stayed back at camp with the kids. She’s jealous after hearing them all the way home.

Not bluegrass, but damn are they amazing instrumentalists and musicians. I don’t listen to a lot of music with brass instruments, but I will gladly spin these guys any time.

Friday was day 2 of DelFest! We got a nice, calm wake up in the camp, kids met a lot of friends and we got in a lot of great music. Cris Jacobs, Dré Anders, and The California Honeydrops.

I realized in editing photos I barely took pictures on Friday. There was a lot of fun downtime in between everything to just relax. The California Honeydrops was a 10pm show, so I went by myself after the kiddos went to sleep. We listened to them more on the way home to St. Louis and my wife is super jealous that she didn’t get to see them.

We only had a couple artists that we absolutely had to see at DelFest. We saw many more, trust me, but Sierra was top of the list. She is easily one of the best mandolinists of our day and an incredibly skilled musician.

Gonna be slowly getting photos up from our adventure to Maryland. Last Tuesday we got the Jeep all packed up. Let’s just say that for our family to survive for a week, we needed a few things… Wednesday morning we hit the road before 7am and drove 12 hours from the flatlands of Illinois, through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and finally Maryland. We crashed in the mountains for the night before heading to DelFest.

Thursday we saw Del McCoury and his band sound check in, had our minds blown by Sierra Hull’s blazing mandolin, and finished our night with Trampled by Turtles.

Off-Grid at DelFest

This last week we disappeared with a very small group knowing where we were going and remained quiet online during our trip. Wednesday I drove 12 hours to Maryland for DelFest, the second-largest bluegrass festival in the United States. We had no plan for Wednesday night since the fairgrounds we were camping at didn’t open until Thursday morning, so we did research on the way for cheap campsites. Our only requirement was a bathroom. That landed us at Big Run State Park for a night. Once pulling in we realized we were in a cellular dead zone. We dragged out the tent, set up, slept, and tore down in the morning.

Since early Wednesday morning, we have had no power, no running water near us— though access to potable water within a walk— little-to-no cellular connection, and no climate control. We made our way home yesterday.

Let me start by saying that this was a great opportunity to disconnect from tech, the Internet, social media, the news cycle, and more while also connecting with others including my family. We got to stay in the family camping area at DelFest, and the kids were quick to make friends. We tended to be the ones coming the furthest— 600+ miles from St. Louis— and enjoyed a lot of new friendships that hopefully we can continue next year.

My family needed this dis/reconnect. A reboot if you may. Life has been a bit brutal this last year. In fact last year we disappeared— without saying a thing to but a few— to Branson for a week. That weekend was filled with frequent anxiety attacks and little rest. This weekend was filled with music, crafts, rafting, and a lot of recovery.

And we needed to recover. The next few weeks are going to be a bit rough for us, but we are together and stronger for it.

To all the Deltopians that had no clue who we were and what we were going through, thank you for taking us in and letting us have a great week with you. Thank you for hanging out with our kids, providing them way too many snacks, teaching my daughter about the wonders of capitalism, encouraging my son to get out of his comfort zone, and more. Y’all made DelFest feel like a home away from our very far-away home.