When the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival uses the slogans “a Who’s Who of Bluegrass” and “a gathering of music, learning, family and friends,” they aren’t kidding. Year after year, the upstate new York festival offers stellar musical acts, outstanding children’s programming, and a friendly—and family-friendly—atmosphere.

The music offers something for everyone, across the full range of the contemporary bluegrass scene, from thoroughly traditional, through New Grass Revival, to “spacegrass” and acts that push the genre’s envelope. Anchored as always by host band Dry Branch Fire Squad, this year’s lineup promises to continue those Grey Fox traditions, featuring Nickel Creek, Del McCoury’s 75th Birthday “Delebration,” Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, the Gibson Brothers, The Claire Lynch Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Jim Lauderdale, The Hillbenders, and many others. More than 25 acts will be appearing on Grey Fox’s six stages on the Walsh Farm in Oak Hill, NY from July 17-20.

The main (High Meadow) stage is far from the only place you’ll hear amazing music. In fact, if you stay there all weekend you’ll miss some great stuff. The Catskill, Creekside, Grass Roots, Slow Jam, and Family stages offer many opportunities to hear top quality performers in more intimate settings.

Wandering the campgrounds, you’ll encounter spontaneous jam sessions at all hours (except in the designated quiet camping area, of course). Don’t be surprised if some of the stage performers join in. If you’re a musician at any level, there are myriad opportunities to join in a jam or gain musical and performance insights from the masters. At the Catskill Stage, you can kick up your heels in a square, contra, or swing dance.

Grey Fox’s children’s programming is consistently outstanding. The Family Stage offers sing-alongs, crafts, music, magic, clowning, and movies on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Bluegrass Academy for Kids provides an intensive musical learning experience that culminates in a real, live performance on the main stage on Sunday. The festival atmosphere is mellow, with festival-goers following the neighborly, environment-conscious “Grey Fox Way,” which allows you to stake out a spot in the main stage field and leave chairs and blankets in place all weekend.

The food and vending at Grey Fox follow the same quality standards as the music. You’ll find everything from a local farmers’ market, to Thai and Mexican, to good old country fare like burgers, ribs, and pulled pork. The variety of high-quality clothing, jewelry, toys, art, and musical instruments goes beyond the usual festival wares and includes on-site, professional instrument repair.

For more information, including up-to-date lineup and schedule, visit www.greyfoxbluegrass.com.

[Photos courtesy of Jean Gazis]