With top-notch talent, family-friendly vibe and northern Michigan’s beauty, Blissfest has been a favorite of music fans for 38 years. Get a preview of this weekend’s star-studded, sold-out festival at Local Spins.
JULY 13 NEWS UPDATE FOR SUNDAY-ONLY TICKETHOLDERS: Blissfest Music Organization made this troubling announcement on Friday. “Blissfest patrons with Sunday day tickets for the 38th annual Blissfest will unfortunately be unable to attend the event this year. Emmet County administrators have taken the position that Sunday day sales are a violation of Blissfest’s agreement to adhere to a strict number of sales for each day. We have done everything we can to try and resolve this issue with Emmet County, but they are not willing to compromise. We will be issuing refunds to all Sunday ticket holders ASAP. Patrons are cautioned not to attempt to enter the Blissfest with a Sunday ticket. Emmet County officials have indicated they are authorized to be on hand to enforce the zoning agreement and you will be turned away. We apologize for the inconvenience and wish you a happy and safe summer.”
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With top-notch talent, a family-friendly atmosphere and the beauty of northern Michigan nature, Blissfest couldn’t be more aptly named.
Lovingly referred to as “Bliss,” the festival began as a small arts club in Petoskey. The desire of these musicians to preserve folk and traditional music eventually manifested in the first Blissfest in 1981.
Nearly four decades later, Blissfest draws thousands of loyal fans each year to its festival farm near Cross Village for camping and dozens of high-spirited performances on four stages, plus four other unique “venues.” (The festival site is located at 3695 Division Road, Harbor Springs, just southeast of Cross Village.)
It’s not just the attendees who return year after year to revel Bliss’ genial atmosphere. Blissfest seems to have become a second home and annual affair for a company of Michigan all-stars including May Erlewine, Luke Winslow King, Ben Daniels Band, Galactic Sherpas and Seth Bernard, who are all scheduled to perform at this year’s completely sold-out festival.
Throughout its storied history, the festival has been a breeding ground for some of Michigan’s top talent, and serves as an opportunity for musicians to network, socialize and jam (on or off stage, there always seem to be people jamming).
One such performer is slide guitar virtuoso Mark Lavengood, who began attending the Blissfest as a volunteer in 2003. Lavengood has since become a staple of the festival, performing both as a solo artist and alongside other festival favorites.
“This is one of my favorite festivals throughout the entire United States, and Michigan has some great ones to boot,” said Lavengood.
Blissfest is also where Lavengood first met and jammed with Bliss veterans Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, who he went on to record and tour with for several years.
With a good mix of blues, folk, soul and rock music, Lavengood ensures that attendees can expect “incredible sound” all weekend long.
“It’s kind of like if WYCE had its own music festival,” he added.
In addition to music, many attendees stay on site to camp throughout the three-day fling and enjoy unique food, arts and crafts workshops, drum circles and children’s activities.
As a non-profit, Blissfest Music Organization schedules programming in northern Michigan throughout the year including small concerts, dinners, dances and workshops.
For more information on Blissfest’s “incredible sound,” visit blissfest.org. And return to Local Spins next week for a festival recap and photos.
BLISSFEST 2018 SCHEDULE
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