23rd Prairie Lake Pickin' Party set for this week
The sound of acoustic guitars, upright basses, banjos, mandolins and “fiddles” has begun to permeate the air at Holton’s Prairie Lake — and that means it’s once again time for the annual Prairie Lake Pickin’ Party.
This year’s annual festival — the 23rd such event to be held at the Prairie Lake grounds — will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday and will feature such familiar Pickin’ Party mainstays as the Legacy Bluegrass Band, the Ready Brothers, Pastense and the Boiler Room Boys. The popular festival features old-time country, bluegrass and gospel music — all acoustic.
The Kansas Prairie Pickers Association started the festival more than two decades ago with only a few dozen musicians getting together at the lake to play. The Pickin’ Party has become KPPA’s flagship event, and KPPA members, many of whom bring their trailers to Prairie Lake well in advance of the event, hold their annual meeting on the Saturday morning of every festival.
The line-up for this year’s Pickin’ Party begins at 5 p.m. Thursday with longtime Party favorites the Bonjour Brothers, followed at 6 p.m. by Thorpe and McElroy, the Wood Valley Pickers at 7 p.m., the Jackson County Pickers at 8 p.m. and the Boiler Room Boys at 9 p.m.
On Friday, the Hootin’ Annies kick things off with a 5 p.m. set, followed by Mule Shoe at 6 p.m., Legacy Bluegrass Band at 7 p.m., Jed Zeplin at 8 p.m. and the Ready Brothers at 9 p.m.
Saturday’s activities begin at 10 a.m. with the annual KPPA open membership meeting, where general club business is conducted and all KPPA members are invited to take part. The annual “band scramble” following the meeting allows members of participating bands to form impromptu groups and play together from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Halbleib Family will lead off Saturday evening’s entertainment with a 5 p.m. set. They’ll be followed by Prospect Bluegrass at 6 p.m., the Durst Family Band at 7 p.m. and Pastense at 8 p.m., with the 89th Street Bluegrass Band closing the festival with a 9 p.m. set.
As always, “pickers and listeners” are welcome to attend, and admission is free, but free-will donations to the KPPA are appreciated. Campers will be charged regular Prairie Lake campground rates, and spaces with electric hook-ups are limited.
Concessions will once again be provided by the Holton Lions Club from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted at the lake grounds, and pets are not allowed in the viewing area.
KPPA will have a merchandise table where some groups may have recordings for sale and members will take donations for two drawings to be held at this year’s festival. Dick and Bobbie Durow of Dick Durow Music and Rick Roberts of Kansas Guitar Shop have donated a guitar and case for one drawing, and Bill and Pearl Tolle have donated a handmade quilt for the other drawing, it was reported.
Prairie Lake is located one mile north of Holton on U.S. Highway 75, then 3 1/2 miles east on 246th Road. For more information on the Pickin’ Party and the Kansas Prairie Pickers Association, call Dave Thorpe at (785) 478-1728 or Ron Meier at (785) 887-6314.