The Ozarks have always been known as a region for Ozark Mountain music, bluegrass. For decades, folks have flocked to Missouri for picking and grinning at some of the finest modern bluegrass venues. High upon that list of stages is the one at Starvy Creek in Conway, Mo.
It all began when Don Day was 11 years old and his brothers introduced him to the live bluegrass sound.
“My brothers took me to Marshfield to see Bill Monroe, the man who started the genre of bluegrass music,” Day explained. “I was amazed at it and i've followed it ever since.”
Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festivals started in 1986 as a way for Don & Bobbie Sue Day to share their love of bluegrass music with others. What started out as a small get-together eventually grew into large bluegrass events held twice a year. The venue and events are all family ran with the help of his family, who are all passionate about bringing top bluegrass acts to Starvy Creek so that fans have a fun and memorable experience.
“I tried to convince everybody that just me and my wife done it all,” Day chuckled. “But they finally figured out that there was others involved in it so yeah, it takes us all… but we really love it.”
“It’s definitely become a family affair,” added Kathy Lane, daughter of Don and Bobbie. “We’ll be having one again in September so we’re looking forward to that and we’ll definitely be out here again next summer.”
For 37 years, the Day family has opened their hearts to world-class bluegrass musicians and fans alike from around the globe. According to Day, he even has a regular attendee who travels from France. Earlier this week, the first guest of the summer festival arrived at the campgrounds from California.
“People like having the option of a campground and they use it to their advantage with it being a central location in the state,” he explained. “They’ll go visit Bennett Springs and Branson and travel all around in the days leading up to the festival.”
With the first event of the season coming up June 30-July 2, over 75 campers have already arrived and claimed their campsites for the week. When walking through the park, you’ll notice a considerable number of blankets and lawn chairs strategically placed near the stage by those who arrived early, staking their spots for the upcoming shows.
“We started out with eight campers at the first festival and we've had as many as 400,” Day added. “But since COVID has come in, it's been down a little over the last couple of years. This year we really expect people to get back out and enjoy the music.”
The property at Starvy Creek is 60 acres, 30 of which is designated to the venue and facilities. An additional five acres is used directly across the street from the entrance to accommodate parking for the large crowds.
It’s the unique opportunity of hearing so many highly respected bluegrass artists that keeps drawing the crowds in. There are few venues dedicated to preserving the appreciation of bluegrass music in the United State, and the world. This is what brings travelers from multiple other countries out for the festivities. While guests certainly have their choice of historic Missouri destinations and access to grocery and convenience stores within 20 minutes of the campgrounds, they scarcely leave once the first act hits the stage. Luckily, they don’t have to.
The venue was first constructed with a stage built by Day and a few small food shacks for guests to purchase concessions. Currently, Starvy Creek offers hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, pulled pork sandwiches and nachos, chili, funnel cakes, popcorn, kettle corn, catfish, homemade pie, ice cream and much more. They also offer breakfast each day from 8-10:30 a.m., which includes sausage patties, biscuits, gravy, hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, coffee and orange juice.
“There’s something for everybody here,” Day added. “Each year it seems to grow and it’s kind of wild to see where it’s at now compared to all those years ago.”
According to Day, the venue has not changed their pricing in several years and the festival prices for admission and camping will remain the same throughout the 2022 season. Admission for Thursday is $20 and $25 for Friday and Saturday. Fans can purchase a 3-day pass for $55. Children age 12-16 are half price with the purchase of an adult ticket. Children under 12 are free with an adult ticket.
Camping prices with the purchase of a 3-day pass is $12 per day for one 20 or 30 Amp hookup and $16 per day for one 50 Amp hookup. A dropped RV is $2 per day and rough campers with no electric are charged $6 per day. The campgrounds do not make reservations and are filled on a first come, first serve basis.
This year’s festival consists of mostly national bands with a few local bands sprinkled throughout the lineup. Some acts include:
September’s lineup includes:
“We’ve got the top bluegrass entertainers in the world coming in this year at both the July and September festivals,” Day said. “They are world-class entertainers and we’re just happy to have them playing here in Missouri.”
Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival is located at 1933 Bluegrass Road, Conway, Mo. 65632. Those interested can find more information about the festival at starvycreek.com or reach out via email to email@example.com with any questions.
Day said he loves offering the bi-yearly festivals and at the end of each one, he is always reminded why he and his family do it.
“People coming in for the festival and when they leave Saturday night to go to their car, stopping and telling me that they ‘didn't know there was anything like this still in the United States,’” Day added. “That right there is what does me the most good.”
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