Blizzard Bluegrass returns
BY ALYSSA MEIER
For the twelfth year in a row, bands from around the country will gather at Bismarck State College to perform a weekend-long Blizzard Bluegrass Festival.
Inspired by notoriously-wicked North Dakota weather, the festival began over a decade ago when a Knoxville, Tenn., band reached out to one in the Peace Garden State.
“Twelve years ago, a band named Blue Moon Rising from Knoxville, TN called me and wanted to fly into Bismarck and put on a concert with our band Cotton Wood in the winter,” Jill Wiese, a Washburn member of the Cotton Wood bluegrass band, said.
Wiese said she placed some calls to find a location and funding, then the rest was history. The event has taken place every winter since, with bands from Nashville, Chicago. Minnesota and Missouri attending. And as the event has grown, organizers have made an effort to give back.
“For the past 3 years we have taken the headlining band to the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center south of Mandan to perform for the 90 plus students that are incarcerated and studying junior and senior high school,” Wiese said. This year’s headlining band is the High 48s from Minneapolis, Minn.
Wiese said they also donate guitars to area schools, teachers and families, along with others that go to a Fort Yates high school guitar project, which Cotton Wood started. The philanthropy helps bring in funding for yearly events, which are both entertaining and educational.