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One of the Hill Country’s Best Music Festivals

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One of the Hill Country’s Best Music Festivals

By Max McNabb

Every Labor Day weekend, thousands of music lovers from around the world gather at the Quiet Valley Ranch just outside of Kerrville, Texas. The resort community in the beautiful Texas Hill Country has hosted the Kerrville Folk Festival each year since 1972. It’s America’s longest-running festival celebrating the art of folk music and songwriting. The stages feature legendary musicians alongside emerging artists. The festival showcases a variety of musical styles with an emphasis on songwriting. For 18 consecutive days and nights each year, over 100 artists enthrall audiences as large as 30,000.

Famous Musicians

One of the Hill Country’s Best Music Festivals

Photo: kerrville-music.com

The festival has featured famous musicians such as Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Judy Collins, and Peter, Paul and Mary. Genres of music include traditional folk, acoustic rock, bluegrass, blues, country, Americana, and jazz. The annual New Folk Competition is judged by peer-professionals and a win is considered a great honor. The competition has recognized many musical talents who later found fame and artistic success, including Steve Earle (1978), Robert Earl Keen (1983), Lyle Lovett (1980), and numerous other familiar names.

The Activities

One of the Hill Country’s Best Music Festivals

Photo: kerrville-music.com

Other activities the festival offers include camping, songwriting schools, Hill Country bike rides, and canoeing on the Guadalupe River. Many attendees enjoy camping on the grounds for the length of the festival. You’re sure to meet new friends and experience the wonder of the outdoors while you catch some great tunes.

The Kerrville Folk Festival was the brainchild of Rod Kennedy. He produced the first show, held at the Kerrville Municipal Auditorium, with the help of only three volunteers. The first festival took place June 1—3, 1972, with 13 performers, including Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Martin Murphey, and Carolyn Hester. The next year saw Willie Nelson performing and a growth in attendance with an audience of 5,600. The success of the 1973 event led to a need for a larger facility. The 60-acre plot of land called the Quiet Valley Ranch was soon purchased and construction began on a stage. By the 1990’s, attendance had surged over 25,000 each year. Founder Rod Kennedy passed away in April, 2014, but his legacy lives on. Over 1,500 singer-songwriters have performed their songs at the Kerrville Folk Festival since its inception.

Location

One of the Hill Country’s Best Music Festivals
Photo: kerrville-music.com

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