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And the strummin’ goes on

ROME TOWNSHIP — There’s a joke in Amanda Allen’s family.

The reason she adores the fast rhythms and melodic tone colors of bluegrass is that before she was born her mother was always listening to the music.

“My mom marked me,” Allen jokes. But it’s no joke when it comes to the affection the young Proctorville woman has for the music of Bill Monroe, Doyle Lawson and Rhonda Vincent to name a few.

“It is so good. If I am stressed out, it relaxes me,” Allen said. “There is never a time when I don’t want to hear it. There is no dirty language in it. I am a Christian. I’ve always loved it.”

So deep is her passion that the ring tone on her cell phone is Monroe’s signature piece, “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

And it’s her devotion to this genre that has driven her to some special work over the past year: Creating her own bluegrass festival, slated for Aug. 7 and 8 at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

The Rio Grande University student calls “The Allen Family Bluegrass Jubilee” a dream come true. But it took more than a dream to make it possible. Since July a year ago, Allen has put in countless hours getting sponsors, musicians and vendors for the festival.

It was all done with one simple goal in mind: to pull together the festival so her father, John Allen, could have a ringside seat.

“My Dad has terminal cancer. He was diagnosed in May of 2007 and went through chemotherapy,” Allen said. “The outlook wasn’t good.”

However, her father has proved the statistics wrong and is doing well, she says.

“I thought this was as good a time as any (to have the festival),” Allen said. “I wanted my Dad to be able to enjoy it. That is so important.”

She picked the fairgrounds because it had multiple advantages from its stage to the campgrounds to parking.

When it came to tracking down the performers, Allen called on the range of contacts she’s developed from the many festivals she’s gone to over the years.

What she has come up with is a lineup of performers that include Rhonda Vincent and The Rage; Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver; Larry Stephenson Band; Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out; New Found Road; The Rarely Herd; Barry Scott and Second Wind; Dale Ann Bradley and Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers.

“I just started picking out bands I knew people liked and that I liked,” Allen said. “Some of them have been so kind and helped so much to get the word out. I want to make this successful this year. I want family entertainment brought to this area.

“This area is in real need of family entertainment. Something that is safe.”

On both days shows start at 11 a.m. with the last band appearing around 10 p.m. each night.

Tickets are available at the gate for $60 for a weekend pass or $35 per day. Advanced tickets are available by calling (740) 886-1467 or from the festival’s Web site of www.allenfamilybluegrass.com.