Back in the late 1960s and the early 1970’s I loved going to the old time music festival down at Union Grove, NC. The first year that I went, the festival was held mostly in the school house where it had started some 40 odd years earlier. By 1970, the festival which had far outgrown the school house and the school yard was moved to the Van Hoy farm where we all camped out and heard the music under big tents.
There was along the way a big blow up between the two Van Hoy brothers, Harper and Pierce, supposedly over whether the festival should become more family friendly (meaning no alcohol, no long hair etc) or more musican friendly (alcohol, long hair etc). We ended up at the Pierce musican friendly version rather than the one at Harper’s Fiddler’s Grove in part because we followed a banjo player named George Pegram. Perhaps too we prefered the more organic (read chaotic) culture over at Pierce’s place.
Also our friend Elizabeth Booker, who was the model for the LP cover of the Jim Scancarelli produced Union Grove Records (I think the Union Grove Hub of the Universe cover), was very emotionally attached to Pierce’s productions and the folks who played there.
The Southern Folklife Collection now has digitized material from the Harper Van Hoy Fiddler’s Grove collection online and it’s worth a visit. Particularly interesting are the various paragraphs describing the two festivals in the Historical Notes. I must have been having more fun than I realized at the time!
Fiddler Bill Hicks wrote an article back in 1970 for the NC Anvil about his choice of Pierce’s festival.