The acoustic music tradition goes back hundreds of years. As in the Appalachian region of the United States, the natives of hilly Brown County, Indiana, have played acoustic string music for generations, but it was a Kentucky native, Bill Monroe, with his high-mountain tenor voice and unique mandolin style, that made bluegrass music what it is today. It was in October of 1951, while performing on the road, that Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe traveled to a small town in Indiana called Bean Blossom to perform at the Brown County Jamboree. He fell in love with the area immediately and in December of 1951 decided to purchase the property making it his home away from home.
In June, 1967, at the insistence of promoter Carlton Haney, Bill Monroe held his first two-day bluegrass festival, which he called a Blue Grass Celebration, at Bean Blossom. He brought his musician friends together to play the high lonesome sound he had pioneered. This first festival was held in the Brown County Jamboree Barn and was so well attended that Bill decided to have it annually and to build an outdoor stage to accommodate a bigger audience. In June of 1968, people from all over the country came to hear the Father of Bluegrass and his legendary Blue Grass Boys perform, as well as other top name bluegrass artists and Grand Ole Opry stars. The artists performed on a newly-constructed stage that sat at the bottom of a wooded amphitheater surrounded by loyal bluegrass fans. Festival patrons gathered in the fields, in the woods, at campsites, just about anywhere they felt like, so they could pick and sing the music they loved so much.
Over the years the festival has grown and the grounds have been improved. The sounds of bluegrass still echo through the hills and trees, with the spirit of Bill Monroe all around us. Despite his death in 1996, the history and tradition at Bean Blossom continues. In the fall of 2000, the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), awarded the 34th Annual Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival as Bluegrass Event of the Year and again in 2013 for the 47th annual festival. That is quite an honor considering the hundreds of bluegrass festivals that are held every year. And in May 2001, the annual Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival was recognized as a Local Legacy for the State of Indiana by the Library of Congress, becoming a permanent display.
Today the memorial festival keeps his memory alive with a week long event (expanded to eight days in 2002) of the very best bluegrass has to offer. Boasting the top talents in bluegrass, this festival draws pickers, grinners and listeners from near and far. This music is celebrated all week with the acoustical instruments and vocal harmonies of groups of musicians.
Due to the success of this festival, we have now grown to host numerous other festivals a year. Since bluegrass attracts pickers as well as listeners, you just might find as much entertainment walking around the campground as on stage. Come visit us and you will more than likely make a few friends in the process.
Now established as the site of the oldest continuous running bluegrass festival in the world, Bean Blossom’s natural beauty has been enhanced by the careful grooming of the festival grounds. Colorful flower beds exist where none had been before; roads and campsites are named for performers and faithful bluegrass fans; a walking trail is marked where Bill Monroe always took early morning walks around his property; and soon the lake will be equipped with fountains to combat algae and beautify the scenery. The walls of the office, museum, and gift shop are lined with rare historic photographs. Couple all this with top-flight bluegrass talent, which Dillman always books, and you have the formula for a wonderful entertainment experience that you will long remember.
This is a listing of pages dealing with some of the history here at the Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park & Campground. To go to any of these pages, click on the button above each page’s name in the list below.
MORE HISTORY plus Photos!
Interesting facts & pics about Bean Blossom
Blue Grass Boys
A listing of known Blue Grass Boys
Memories of Bill Monroe& past festival experiences at Bean Blossom
A listing of performers who have played at Bean Blossom
Festival Report Archive
Reports on previous festivals