June 10, 2015

Missouri River Bluegrass Festival

By Cheryl McCormack

Bluegrass music and cottonwood trees – the two go together like peas and carrots. In about a week, feel free to munch on the healthy veggies while you kick back and relax at Cross Ranch State Park (CRSP), listening to bluegrass bands perform live under the cottonwood trees.

The 25th Annual Missouri River Bluegrass Festival is scheduled for June 19-20 and bands are traveling from near and far for a weekend of "jamming" at the park, which is located southeast of Hensler.

History of the festival

Former CRSP Manager Jesse Hanson initiated the very first Missouri River Bluegrass Festival a quarter of a century ago, as a way to draw people to the park for Labor Day weekend, 1990.

After listening to the Bluegrass Association play at Bismarck’s Gateway Mall one Sunday afternoon, Hanson contacted the association’s president, John Andrus, to see if it would be possible to round up a few bands to play at CRSP.

With the support of the Center Community Club, the first festival went "off without a hitch" and the event has taken place every year since, with the exception of 2011, when the festival was cancelled due to the Missouri River flood.

Andrus, with the support of his wife, Arlene; their children, Joe and Evie; and many friends, successfully organized the event for the past 24 years. Just last summer, the Andruses retired, leaving the festival in the hands of Bob and Jill Wiese, Washburn, and members of the local bluegrass band, Cotton Wood.

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