WESTFIELD — For the 16th consecutive year the rolling hills around the Nunn Brothers Music Park will come alive with bluegrass music this weekend.
The annual Nunn Brothers Bluegrass Festival will again be hosted by twin brothers and musicians Alden and Arnold Nunn at their namesake park, located in the rural Woodville community where both grew up.
The event will kick off at 7 p.m. Thursday with a musicians’ jam session that will be free and open to all.
A full Friday evening lineup will begin at 7 p.m. The local band Marshall Brothers and High Road will be joined on stage by Passing Thru and the host group, The Nunn Brothers and Friends.
Saturday performances will begin at 5 p.m. Featured acts will include a repeat performance by Passing Thru and The Buck Stankle Boys, The Idle Time Band and The Nunn Brothers and Friends.
“This will be the first time we’ve had the Idle Time Band,” Arnold Nunn said, “and we’re looking forward to that. We had heard them on the radio and liked them. We invited them to come play and they agreed.”
As has become a festival tradition, Sunday afternoon will be dedicated to gospel music and a message. Music will begin at 1:30 p.m. and will include Eric and Ben Marshall, The Sugarloaf Mountain Band and The Nunn Brothers and Friends. Brother Ricky Easter, pastor of Albion Baptist Church, will be preaching a sermon at 3 p.m.
In a new addition, a horseback ride is scheduled for Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. Participants are invited to bring their horses for a 14- to 16-mile trail ride over local roads and wooded areas. According to Arnold Nunn, several riders will be bringing in horses as early as Thursday for camping at the site.
Admission for the festival will be $9 for Friday and $10 for Saturday or $18 for both days. No admission will be charged for Thursday’s jam session and for Sunday activities. Children younger than 10 will be admitted free throughout the weekend.
“When we started this 16 years ago,” Arnold Nunn recalled, “I never thought it would go on this long. Now, I’d like to see it go 20 to 25 years, and then pass it on to somebody else to do all the setting up for it.”
“We love putting this on,” Alden Nunn added. “This is a good place to have music, here on the creek, and it gives joy to people’s hearts. We’re glad to be doing our sweet 16th annual festival.”
An ideal setting for the festival, Nunn Brothers Music Park is located between the Nunn family homeplace and the brothers’ current homes on Woodville Road. Once a tobacco field worked by the Nunn family, the park and its adjacent stream now reflect the rich rural history of bluegrass music.
The brothers have deep roots in the tiny Woodville community, located just north of Westfield, and with the bluegrass music they grew up playing. With music a family passion, impromptu bluegrass jam sessions were common in the Nunns’ boyhood home and large gatherings of family and friends would often be built around the chance to play.
Alden and Arnold Nunn have dedicated the festival to the memory of their father, Clarence Olin Nunn, who passed away in 1979. Both recall childhood memories of their father encouraging them, at the age of 8, to learn their own instruments and join in the music.
The park also is dedicated to their father and to the memory of loved ones — A. Blaine Nunn (1967-1985), Delmer C. Inman (1935-2001), T. Haakon Chilton (1918-2004), Robert J. Hall (1935-2011) and Walter L. Rogers (1919-2012).
“This is a family event that keeps the music going,” Arnold Nunn explained. “It carries on the tradition.
“We’ve always played together,” Arnold said of making music with his brother, “but we don’t get as much time for it now. It’s good to have this weekend set aside for it, to get to listen and to know that we’ll be playing a little, too.”
Plenty of parking is available, but organizers recommend that those attending bring lawn chairs, and umbrellas and jackets in case of a sudden shower. Tents are set up and primitive camping is available. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed.
Concessions will be available for purchase including food by Welcome Baptist Church and drinks by the youth at Albion Baptist Church.
”This is something for our community and is one of the bigger events in Westfield,” Arnold Nunn said.
“I’ve been coming to this for 12 years or better,” said Lonnie Beck, a local resident and bluegrass music enthusiast. “I love this place. You can’t find a better place to come and listen to music. I’ve been all over to bluegrass festivals but this is about the best.”
“People come together for this every year,” Nunn continued. “It’s like a big homecoming for a lot of us. People listen to the music and catch up on what’s been going on with each other.”
From Pilot Mountain, the festival can be reached by taking Old Westfield Road to its end at Westfield Baptist Church and turning left onto Highway 89 (Westfield Road). Turn right after about 3 miles onto Woodville Road. The park is located 3/4 miles on the right.
From Mount Airy, take Highway 89 (Westfield Road) at the DJ Galaxy Food Store in the Bannertown community and go 8 miles before turning left onto Woodville Road. The park is located 3/4 miles on the right.
Additional information on the festival can be found at www.nunnbrothers.com or by calling 351-5543.