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Bluegrass Boys / Memories / Past Performers / Festival Archive


The NFL Super Bowl is the same age as the Bill Monroe Memorial Bluegrass Festival.

The CMA Award Show is the same age as the Bill Monroe Memorial Bluegrass Festival.

Photo Credit: Jan Willis – Pine Valley Music
This was the first sign Bill Monroe had made for Bean Blossom. Bill used to put up this sign along the road to let people know about the festival. This sign was replaced by the current one and is now stored away. It is not believed that Bill made this sign himself.


    This barn was the sight of the Brown County Jamboree for many years. The barn has been replaced by the Hall Of Fame Museum and Gift Shop.


In 1988, when Bill Monroe announced that he was retiring from the road and that the ’88 festival would be his last, a much larger than usual crowd showed up. Of course, Bill later changed his mind and continued the festivals, but after the close of that festival, someone stole the 2 x 24 foot sign which had adorned the top of the old stage, (as a souvenir, I suppose). The sign, very artistically done, in color, appears on the cover of the 1973 MCA Album, “Bean Blossom”, and it says, “Bill Monroe – BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA – The Home of Bluegrass Music”. This sign was replaced by another one saying the same thing, but in blue block letters which were not as appealing as the original. Just before this year’s festival started, the phone rang in the Museum office, and an anonymous caller said, “The sign is out front”. And sure enough, it was. My take on this is that whoever had the sign was aware of all the improvements that Dwight Dillman has done to bring Bean Blossom back as a major festival, and maybe a little bit of guilt feeling caused the return. Dwight had a professional sign painter touch up the old sign and it was installed in its rightful place above the stage – a sort of visible reminder that BB is back.” – JIM PEVA

L-R: Fenella Flynn, Bill Friend, James King, James Monroe, Jimmy Martin,
Jim Crane

This picture was taken during the 1998 fall festival at the Iinduction of Jimmy Martin into the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Hall Of Fame, following his afternoon show on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Darlene Dillman
L-R: Sam Jackson, Jimmy Martin, Dwight Dillman, Dana Dillman, W.M. Bentley and Myron Dillman

WM Bentley loves the Bean Blossom festivals and has worked long and hard on the festival grounds for many years including mowing, parking campers and an unlimited number of other jobs. He has got to know all the regular Bean Blossom fans by their first names and they know him, too. He is truely an ambassador of good will and bluegrass music.

Dedication doesn’t escape Dwight Dillmans’s notice. When Mr. Bentley suggested that the lake be cleaned up and Bill Monroe’s old walking trail restored, Dwight agreed. He had an archway entrance constructed near the museum and signs prepared for the “Monroe/Bentley” walking trail.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Saturday, October 10th at the 24th Hall of Fame & Uncle Pen Day Festival. The ceremony was attended by Jimmy Martin, Mr. Jackson, the show MC, and others. Dwight’s daughter Dana cut the ribbon, and he and WM Bentley were the first to walk through the arch. Bentley’s eyes were filled with pride as he became a celebrity at Bean Blossom. His recognition is well deserved.

Mr. Bently is also the organizer of the Hillbilly Wagon Train held in October.



This bus was repainted to help advertise the Bill Monroe Memorial Bluegrass June festival – the longest running annual Bluegrass festival in the world. Many big names in Bluegrass have driven this bus. Jimmy Martin, pictured here, rode this bus to the 1998 Fall Festival.

1998 – Dwight Dillman was named the Bluegrass Promoter of the Year by SPBGMA.

1979 – Bill Monroe pictured with The Young Blades of Bluegrass

BEAN BLOSSOM BAND CONTEST Do you have info to submit? Please email us with any pictures you might have as well.

1979 – The Young Blades of Bluegrass – winners of the 1979 BB Band Contest were the youngest band to ever win.

2000 – Skinny Lynard – 1st place winner of the 34th Annual Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, June 2000.

2001 – The Wheeling Park High School Band (WV) were the 1st place winner of the BB Band Contest at the 35th Annual Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, June 2001. The 2nd place winner was Rome Hill (OH) and High Lonesome Heartland from Indiana took 3rd place.


FEBRUARY 28, 1999
– Jimmy’s last day of rabbit hunting with his prized beagle dogs: George Jones, Little “Tater” Jimmie Dickens, Eddie Stubbs, Minnie Pearl, Marty Stuart and Shorty. Pictured from left: Jimmy, Earl Tillery, Anthony, Tommy Scruggs, and Ray Martin with their 25 rabbits.

A NOTE ABOUT THIS PHOTO: “A few nights ago we had a pleaseant surprise as Dwight Dillman brought Jimmy Martin to our house for a visit. I’m pleased to report that Jimmy is in good health once again. Jimmy let out two big yodels for me before he walked out the door! That night after they left, he and Derek picked until 2:00 in the morning!! Dwight and his family said they felt honored to have Jimmy as a guest in their home near Peru, IN.   Jimmy has been doing a lot of hunting this winter from October through February. His last rabbit hunt was on February 28,1999, and Jimmy said he has now ended his rabbit hunting for this season. Jimmy was recently in Indiana hunting with Russ Bellar, the #1 coon hunter in the world. Russ was very nice to Jimmy and gave him a #1 rated squirrel dog, which he now calls Minnie Pearl.   Jimmy is now back on the road traveling in his big red Bean Blossom tour bus. He is looking forward to another great season of music and to seeing all his friends at Bean Blossom on the 19th of June. Be there for a 30 year reunion with Jimmy, Doyle Lawson and some of the former Sunny Mountain Boys.” unknown source



MARCH 31, 1999 – Hoosier Lawmakers Honor Bill Monroe

There was much concern when bluegrass music was played in the Rotunda of the Indiana State Capitol in on Wednesday, March 31, 1999. by Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain and Talmadge Law & the Bluegrass Sounds. Melvin Goins spoke about the late Bill Monroe and the music he created. Bill Friend, State Representative from District 23, was to introduce a bill to the Indiana House of Representatives that day to designate the portion of Indiana State Road 135 that runs from Morgantown through Bean Blossom to Nashville, Indiana, BILL MONROE MEMORIAL HIGHWAY. But a discussion about a different matter caused the Speaker of the house to adjourn the body of lawmakers before the bill could be introduced.. But the bill was introduced the next week and two weeks later the Indiana State Senate concurred and the resolution was passed. The following is a portion of House Concurrent Resolution # 59:

Whereas, William Smith (“Bill”) Monroe was born in the neighboring State of Kentucky, but first performed on the radio in Hammond, Indiana in 1930:
Whereas, He was the originator and founder of a unique style of American country music known as “Bluegrass,” which is now enjoyed and performed by people all over the world;
Whereas, Bill Monroe had a deep affection for the State of Indiana, and in particular, Brown County, Indiana, and owned and operated a music park in Bean Blossom, Indiana from 1953 until his death. He wrote and performed songs about Brown County, and the State of Indiana, and was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by both Governors Bowen and Bayh:
Whereas, Bill Monroe moved his Blue Grass Museum and Hall of Fame from Nashville, Tennessee, to Bean Blossom, Indiana;
Whereas, the bluegrass music festival held each year since 1967 in the month of June at Bean Blossom, Indiana, has now become the oldest continuously running bluegrass festival in the world, has become world famous, and has drawn fans to the Hoosier State from all over the world;
Whereas, Bill Monroe, an artist of great musical genius, and a poet of American folklore continued as a active performer until age 84, despite serious health problems that would have defeated men of lesser mettle; and
Whereas, Bill Monroe became a legend in his own lifetime, and upon his death on September 9, 1996, generated a world-wide outpouring of media coverage of his career and contributions to American culture: Therefore be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, the Senate concurring:

SECTION 1. That the Indiana General Assembly honors the life and accomplishments of William Smith Monroe by asking the Indiana Department of Transportation to designate that part of Indiana Highway #135 between Morgantown and Nashville, Indiana, which passes through Bean Blossom, Brown County, Indiana as the Bill Monroe Memorial Highway.

SECTION 2. That the Principal Clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives transmit a copy of this resolution to the commissioner of the Indiana department of transportation and to the Blue Grass Museum and Hall of Fame in Bean Blossom, Indiana

Bill Monroe was a member of the Grand Ole Opry from 1939 until his death in 1996. He was also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, SPBGMA’s Preservation Hall of Greats and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Mr. Monroe received the first Grammy Award presented to a bluegrass musician, and was presented the National Medal of the Arts by President Bill Clinton.

Frank Overstreet

2000 – Bean Blossom chosen as a Local Legacy:

The Library of Congress, founded in 1800, is the oldest cultural institution in the United States and the largest library in the world. As a part of its bicentennial celebration in 2000, United States Senators and Representatives were invited to submit to the Library documentation of significant and worthy events held in their respective jurisdictions. The submissions accepted by the Library are designated as “Local Legacies” and they become a part of a permanent display of current American culture.

Representative Baron Hill of the Ninth Congressional District of Indiana submitted the Bill Monroe Memorial Annual Bluegrass Festival at Bean Blossom as such an event and it was accepted and designated as a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress. This is an important recognition by the Library that this festival, initiated by Bill Monroe himself and continued by James Monroe and Dwight Dillman, has now become a historic and significant cultural event in the United States. This year’s festival is the 34th annual, and is believed to be the oldest continuous annual bluegrass festival in the world.
The documentation submitted by Representative Hill consists of over forty pages of historical text, supplemented by photographs, video tapes, news clippings, magazine articles, and the MCA album “Bean Blossom.” The Local Legacy projects are listed and described on the Library of Congress’ Internet Home Page, which can be found at, click on “bicentennial”, then “Local Legacies”, and “Project Listing.” A direct link to the Bean Blossom page is:
I believe Mr. Monroe would be proud of this well deserved recognition of his important contributions to American music and culture.

Jim Peva



Things don’t change much in Brown County, Indiana

The older picture on the left, courtesy Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, was taken by Frank Hohenberger in 1925 and it shows Felix (on the left), and Chris Brummet, standing by a mailbox in Brown County.  The picture on the right taken by Jim Peva in 2002, shows WM Bentley (left), and Robert Hannemann, standing by a mailbox on the Bean Blossom festival grounds.