Grammy winner will play Olalla bluegrass fest

Long gone are the days when bat guano ruled the roost at the Olalla Community Center.

These days, Grammy winners reign supreme.

“We’re just tickled to have Laurie Lewis with us this year,” said Olalla Bluegrass Festival founder Charlee Glock-Jackson, explaining that the California-based fiddler who won a Grammy in 1997 will play this afternoon at the fundraiser’s 16th year.

“Having a Grammy winner grace our little festival is a real treat,” he said.

Of course, with a lineup that features no fewer than seven musical acts, perhaps the days of calling the festival “little” are over, as well. But no matter how popular the event and its music becomes, the heart and soul of the festival remains the Olalla community.

Launched in 1991 to revive Olalla’s neglected and animal-dropping-filled community center, Glock-Jackson said the festival has evolved from a spontaneous suggestion to a fully entrenched tradition that has transformed the center it benefits.

“Funds from the festival have bought us a new well, a new kitchen, foundation work and new paint inside and out. And this year – at long last – we’re finally getting that new roof,” said Marty Kellogg, festival manager and president of the Olalla Community Club.

And then there’s the music.

“We call it bluegrass and beyond, because we think bluegrass music has wonderfully bendable boundaries,” Glock-Jackson, said, explaining that bluegrass is the perfect music for the family-friendly festival because it “transcends generations.”

Passed on from grandmas to granddaughters and uncles to nephews, she said bluegrass attracts all ages with its welcoming, improvisational style. And besides, it’s just fun.

“Your toes can’t keep from tapping,” she said. “Who doesn’t like it?”

Along with Lewis, artists who will be playing the festival this year include Puget-Sound-based Runaway Train, Seattle’s Stay Tuned, Yakima’s Catch & Release, guitar player Moe Dixon, and West Valley Highway.

Since the festival is designed for the entire family, it offers plenty for kids who may not have developed a taste for bluegrass just yet. Those activities include face painting, a reptile petting zoo, crafts demonstrations, and, lastly — dessert.

“The word ‘olalla’ means ‘place with many berries,’” said Tish Culp, long-time manager of the festival’s berry pie contest. “We think that homemade berry pies are a tasty way to honor that heritage. We get entries from all around the area, and the winning pie is auctioned off to a bidder in the audience.”

The festival is sponsored by the non-profit Olalla Community Club and Olalla Grange No. 1125.

Her is the official lineup

• 11 a.m. DewGrass

• 12 p.m. Eclectic Cloggers

• 12:45 p.m. Kiddos & critters on parade

• 1 p.m. Runaway Train

• 1:45 p.m. Berry Pie auction.

• 2 p.m. Stay Tuned

• 3 p.m. Catch & Release

• 4 p.m. Laurie Lewis with Tom Rozum

• 5:30 p.m. Moe Dixon

• 7 p.m. West Valley Highway

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