After his veteran nephew was found living under a bridge and addicted to pills, then recovered with the help of the Chillicothe VA, Frankfort resident Bill Self decided he wanted to do something to help other veterans and the hospital that helped his nephew.
As a result, the fourth annual 7 Mile Bluegrass Festival will be held July 28-30 at 4569 Lyndon Road just outside of Greenfield. It will feature about 20 bands and the only admission fee is six non-perishable items or anything that won’t spoil.
Self said his nephew served in the military for about five years and during that time was hit by a roadside bomb that left him deaf and killed three of his fellow soldiers. The nephew ended up living under a bridge in Chillicothe for a time, but with help from the Chillicothe VA he got straightened around.
“It was a struggle for us as a family,” Self said.
The help his nephew received left Self wanting to help other veterans, but the festival also got its start when a Greenfield property owner wanted some company and music.
“The festival got started with the property owner, Larry Case, asking us to do a bluegrass festival on his property,” Self said. “I’ve been to plenty of bluegrass festivals and played plenty of them. I said, ‘We can do it here. Let me look into it.’”
Though at first Self was discouraged because of the $4,000 it would take to rent a stage, Craig Thornton, the owner of Eastern Avenue Lumber Company in Chillicothe, stepped in to help.
“I was fixing a forklift at a lumberyard and a fella said, ‘Hey, it looks like you’re upset today,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I am, but I really don’t want to get you involved,’ and he was like, ‘Well, what’s going on?’ I said, ‘I can’t even afford a stage to start out. I was going to do something good here,’” Self said. “He donated all of the lumber for the stage after I told him what we were going to do. Everything from there moving forward was all donated.”
Though Thornton passed away shortly thereafter, Self said he named the stage “Craig.”
Self knew he wanted to do something for local veterans from the beginning.
“We played for the veterans down there and after the show I was trying to find a restroom, and one of the veterans was in the hallway, asking where the food pantry was,” Self said. “They finally showed him, and he goes, ‘Do you believe that? There ain’t nothing in there, and this is what happens when you serve your country.’ I felt guilty, so I talked to the band about it, and I said, ‘How about we do a canned food drive and not charge a dime. We’ll talk about the sponsors, and that’s how we’ll run it forward.’ My first year, I raised $8,500, and that paid for all of the bands.”
This year the donated food items will go to the Chillicothe VA. Any money received at the gate will be used for gas cards for veterans, and any food the Chillicothe VA doesn’t have room for will go to the Military Resource Center in Chillicothe.
In addition to the bands, there will be crafters, vendors, giveaways and raffles.
“It’s family driven. There’s no beer garden or anything like that,” Self said.
Primitive camping and parking are free, and restrooms will be available.
Following is the festival schedule:
Thursday, July 28
Pickin’ Pair — 4 p.m
Lorraine Jordan — 5 p.m.
Crandall Creek —6 p.m.
Larry Efaw & The Bluegrass Mountaineers — 7:30 p.m.
Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys — 9 p.m.
Friday, July 29
Tall Grass — 11 a.m.
Tony Hale & Blackwater — 12 p.m.
Kauffman Road — 1 p.m.
Junior Sisk Band — 2 p.m.
Clay Hess Band — 3 p.m.
Break — 4 p.m.
Tall Grass —5 p.m.
Tony Hale & Blackwater — 6 p.m.
Junior Sisk Band — 7 p.m.
Kauffman Road — 8 p.m.
7 Mile Bluegrass — 9 p.m.
Clay Hess Band — 10 p.m.
Saturday, July 30
Black Powder Express — 11 a.m.
State Route 33 — 12 p.m.
Southridge — 1 p.m.
Backup & Push — 2 p.m.
Hammertowne — 3 p.m.
Break — 4 p.m.
Little Roy and Lizzy — 5 p.m.
Black Powder Express — 6:30 p.m.
State Route 33 — 7:30 p.m.
Backup & Push — 8:30 p.m.
7 Mile Bluegrass — 9:30 p.m.
Hammertowne — 10:30 p.m.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.