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The In 1997 three-time national fiddle champion Byron Berline witnessed the first Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, an event that he spearheaded after moving back to Oklahoma from California in 1995. The October festival, held in Guthrie, features bluegrass bands from around the world. Many bands from Japan, Holland, Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic, among other countries, return each year. Renowned American musicians have also performed, including Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Amy Grant, Bob Wills's Texas Playboys, and Earl Scruggs.

In 1996 the OIBF formed, formally incorporating under Oklahoma law, to "promote bluegrass music and the state of Oklahoma." The first festival drew fifteen thousand bluegrass fans. In addition to the musical performances, other activities at the three-day event include an auction benefitting a scholarship fund that awards young musicians, a golf tournament, children's activities, and workshops. The success in 2000 of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? with its traditional bluegrass soundtrack, provided extra interest in the festival at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The OIBF more than doubles the population of Guthrie, introducing visitors to the many museums, antique stores, and restaurants of Oklahoma's former capital. In 2003 Berline remained the president of the OIBF and had performed at every festival.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Bluegrass Festival," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Larry O'Dell

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