Students attend annual bluegrass festival, make memories

Erica Beebe

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The 45th annual Walnut Valley Festival, often referred to as “Winfield,” will be held this year on Sept. 14-18 in Winfield, Kan. Each year students and their families drive over an hour away to camp, listen to performers and play music. People begin lining up for the festival over a month in advance to get a good seat, and some students have even admitted to skipping school to get a head start on the festival fun.

“I keep wanting to go back because it’s an experience. I mean it is the same thing each year but it never feels that way. There is always something different and exciting,” junior Zoe Siemens said.

Winfield is an acoustic music festival featuring mainly bluegrass music. Not only do performers on stage showcase their talent, but so do the campers. It is said that visitors can hear music playing all hours of the night from groups of campers in their tents. Last year was senior Maggie Dungan’s first year attending the Walnut Valley Festival.

“I’m so excited to go back this year because Winfield is such a unique environment. Never have I experienced so much instrumental and vocal talent and so many people who are so passionate about music,” Dungan said.

The festival attracts around 11,000-15,000 people each year from all around the country, and even across the globe. One of the more popular bands people come to see is called The Steel Wheels.

“My favorite part of last year was when I went to Stage five, a more laid back performance setting, and saw The Steel Wheels perform. It was so different from their other performances because it was so full of raw talent and passion,” Dungan said.

Some students return to Newton feeling closer to each other than when they left.

“The group I camp with is called ‘Camp Flippin’ Bird’ and we are all kind of like family,” Siemens said.