Cumberland Times-News

Local News

May 25, 2013

DelFest offers more than just bluegrass music

CUMBERLAND — The sixth annual DelFest at the Allegany County Fairgrounds progressed into Saturday afternoon of the Memorial Day weekend and the weather warmed.

Cumberland got mighty cold Friday night as festivalgoers were bundled in scarves, gloves and hats to avoid the windy and chilly conditions.

At the fairgrounds, fires are permitted for those willing to bring a fire ring and their own wood. And the fires were burning Friday night surrounded by hordes of amateur musicians who bought their instruments.

Walking around the fairgrounds perimeter is quite a walk these days as this piece of land continues to expand every year. Every hole seems to be filled by vehicles, tents and RVs. The music echoes into the wee hours of the morning.

DelFest has also turned into quite the family setting. There are kids running around everywhere. And it’s no wonder considering that is how DelFest creators intended this festival to be.

For those looking for quieter late-night surroundings, DelFest offers a family-friendly atmosphere where quiet is the key after certain hours and there are plenty of child-oriented activities to partake in each day.

Hanging out at the Potomac stage  — a secondary stage set up along the fairgrounds multipurpose building — a band called Red Baraat was creating a sound that isn’t generally found at many places across the planet.

While many who have yet to make it here refer to DelFest as strictly a bluegrass festival, it’s extremely easy to see that Red Baraat, among many other artists who play here, that bluegrass is not the only musical element on the property.

Formed in 2008, Red Baraat is a pioneering eight-piece band from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Conceived by Sunny Jain, the group has drawn worldwide praise for its singular sound, a merging of harddriving North Indian bhangra rhythms with elements of jazz, go-go, brass funk and hip-hop.

Even Del McCoury was on hand to see what his festival had managed to attract in Red Baraat.

A longtime friend of mine, a DJ on the famous New Orleans radio station WWOZ, once told me the best music was the music you’ve never heard. That concept has played its hand out on U.S. Route 220 with DelFest.

The artists here continue to vary from bluegrass to jazz to “I don’t know what you categorize Red Baraat.” That’s the good stuff.

The food vendors are a combination of local flavors and other delights from all over. There’s nothing like getting a slice of David Bowie Pizza from the food court or chasing down one of the Caporale Bread brothers peddling their pepperoni roll wagon, singing Italian songs. In a nutshell, the food is outstanding.

Even the tiny details of this festival have been professionally run. The logistics have been dialed in — there are no traffic issues and law enforcement officials have done a marvelous job keeping DelFest safe and free of, well, idiotic behavior.

DelFest co-founder Stan Strickland was delighted to say, “We are so appreciative of the unprecedented cooperation local law enforcement has provided. Lt. Fluharty of the Maryland State Police and Sheriff Robertson are both men of their word and their teams gave our patrons a much safer and friendlier festival experience than ever before.”

Overall, the crowds have been appreciative and conscience of treating this place with the respect it deserves.

Kudos to everyone who helped make DelFest another great experience. See y’all again next year!

Todd Helmick is a former Fort Hill High School and Florida State University football player. He is the owner of the college football website and his weekly radio show can be heard on Baltimore FOX Sports 1370.

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