Walnut Valley Festival – Winfield, KS

This weekend Becky and I went to the Walnut Valley Festival (WVF) in Winfield, Kansas. Winfield is located just a little north of Arkansas City, KS, which is just north of Oklahoma. That was a long drive, let me tell you, especially after driving from Kansas City to Manhattan. Traveling to Winfield is a family tradition for Becky and her family and I was glad she wanted to go.

We got there late Saturday Friday night and there weren’t any more musicians playing on any of the five stages. Apparently, the big after-hours thing to do is to go “camp-grounding.” Camp-grounding consists of walking around with your friends in the campgrounds while drinking and listening to people play instruments. Since the WVF is a Bluegrass festival, the fiddle, banjo, acoustic guitar, and upright bass were seen all over the place on our trek.

The next day we ventured inside the venue to look at all the items that vendors were selling. You get a lot of handmade crafts, hippy/folky clothes, and various musical instrument related wares. Another thing you see a lot of is homemade food. The free samples were magnifique. Most of the middle-day was spent at the campsite just lounging around in the shade.

Later that night we went to see some of the musicians play. First up was Tom Chapin. Tom Chapin is the brother of the late Harry Chapin. Tom has written/sang lots of songs through his many years, but is most notable for his children’s songs. Very kid-friendly kind of music.

After Tom’s set we went back to the campground to hang out. We came back to listen to the latter half of John McClutchen’s set. Offhand, I don’t remember much of this because I fell asleep.

Becky wanted to hear Tommy Emmanuel, so we just hung around and listened to The Wilders because Tommy played afterwards. I also slept through much of The Wilders, which surprises me because they play the sort of old time music where the fiddle is played really fast. If you can picture a redneck ho-down, this is the type of music that would be played. This also is where a lot of the folksy people came out to dance, so I’m surprised I was able to sleep.

Tommy Emmanuel wasn’t playing his solo set like Becky had wanted. He was playing with another guy and they kept playing really slow music. None of which was to Becky’s liking, so we left.

I’m not sure if it was because of the 60+ hour work week I just had or the late night on Friday or the hot days/cold nights, but I was really tired on Saturday. Consequently there was no camp-grounding for us that night. Plus I had to drive all the way back to Kansas City on Sunday.

So, we made it an early night. Sunday morning we did our best to get on our way early. The long drive went by fairly quick, so that was happy.

Overall, I had a good time. I wish I had more energy and would have listened to more of the musicians, but c’est la vie. Perhaps next time I will. I’d recommend going to the festival to anyone if they got the chance. It’s a lot like Country Stampede here in Manhattan, only it’s bluegrass music instead of country.