This is the first of a two part story of Skunk Fest
I generally use this space to preview the weekend’s shows while highlighting the ones that most pique my interest. Some events, however, require a little more planning and attention which is why I want to start singing the praises of the Albino Skunk Festival now to give you plenty of time to make the appropriate arrangements for the first weekend of October. Skunk Fest is the Greatest Show on Dirt after all and there is no reason to let something like that sneak up on you.
The event that would inadvertently evolve into Skunk Fest was merely a bunch of friends looking to enjoy a fall evening on Glynn Zeigler’s property out in Greer. The setting is the type that requires such activity with all of the serenity and natural beauty an old peach farm provides. What better place for a group of guys to pass a bottle, listen to music, and tell a few stories than on wooded farm land? Someone suggested that a party like this needed a live band instead of CDs (Spotify playlists were not yet invented in the 1990’s) and a local bluegrass ensemble was invited to join in on the shenanigans. Just like that, the Albino Skunk Bluegrass Music Festival was born.
Ok, so not quite “just like that”.
The Skunk Fest evolution was a slow and organic one. First, the group of attendees expanded from a single group of friends to a much longer invitation list with an admission price set at “bring a pot luck dish”. Eventually a permanent stage was built to accommodate more than just a single band on a single evening and actual tickets were advertised and sold to the public. By the time I was personally introduced to the event in 2007, the Albino Skunk Bluegrass Festival was a two day affair that was as laid back and enjoyable a festival as I had ever attended. To see what it has grown into from my first festival – and knowing the story of how it originally came to be – is nothing short of incredible.
Today, the Albino Skunk Music Festival (it is not just bluegrass anymore) is a three day celebration of immensely talented local, regional, and internationally touring artists. There are food trucks and caterers, a beer garden courtesy of The Community Tap, a kids’ area, and even a charity bike ride that takes cyclists to some significant Upstate landmarks. Finally, it is not even a singular fall event but a spring edition was added years ago and now even an indoor Winter Skunk Fest takes place at the nearby Spinning Jenny in Downtown Greer.
Most importantly, the artists that Zeigler’s festival has attracted over the years is a who’s who list of stars on the folk, bluegrass, and Americana music scene. There are Grammy winners like the Steep Canyon Rangers, since-passed musical royalty like Col. Bruce Hampton, full blown superstars like The Avett Brothers, and oh so many more. A quick glance at the artist archive shows well over 400 bands that have taken the stage at the farm since Skunk Fest became “official” in 1995 and there are way too many big names on that list to count.
Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Skunk Fest is the Upstate’s premier musical event of the fall and it is going down next week with the Flatland Tourists kicking things off at 2:30 on Thursday afternoon. Clear your schedule now and make plans to head out to the farm for the Greatest Show on Dirt for an afternoon, evening, or the whole darn thing. Also, check in back here next week as I preview the lineup and make my picks for which bands on this year’s bill you should really be excited about (spoiler alert: there are more than just a few).
In the words of the man, Glynn Zeigler himself… FEST-AAAA-VUUUUUL!