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DelFest celebrates 10 years of music

With three stages, 35 bands, and a special guest appearance by country music star Dierks Bentley, the 10th anniversary of DelFest will go down in Allegany County history.

“Everyone seems to say it was the best one yet,” said Barb Buehl, director of Allegany County Tourism.

Held each year at the Allegany County Fairgrounds, the family-friendly festival celebrates the legacy of Del McCoury and his impact on music. While Del is renowned for his bluegrass performances, the festival features music for everyone’s tastes. From gospel to country, the variety makes it stand out among traditional bluegrass shows across the country.

Although this year’s attendance figures won’t be available until later this month, organizers expect the total to break DelFest records. Last year, the four-day festival attracted more than 32,000 guests, representing 45 states and 13 countries.

“We had the highest percentage of local sales this year, and that keeps rising every year,” said Buehl. “This year we might have had more children attending than ever before. The music crosses all generations – from toddlers to seniors in their 70’s.”

While most festivals are run by large corporations, DelFest is managed by the McCoury family, who set the tone for the event every year. There are now three generations of McCoury musicians who participate in the yearly celebration.

DelFest
Photo courtesy of Ty DeMartino

“The festival is not only family-friendly, it is run by a family,” said Buehl. “People plan vacations and reunions around the event.” Those camping overnight might even get a glimpse of the legendary Del—he has been known to ride through the campgrounds on a golf cart to greet fans.

To commemorate the festival’s legacy, the Maryland Department of Commerce honored Del McCoury and the Allegany County Department of Tourism for their dedication and for DelFest’s economic impact on the local community. In addition to bringing thousands of visitors to Cumberland each year, the Del McCoury family has donated more than $400,000 to local charities over the years.

“Just being up there with Del was an honor… it’s definitely a highlight of the 10 years,” said Buehl. “We worked so hard to gain acceptance, prove that it was good for the community, and show that it had economic value. To have the state reach out and recognize the anniversary… it made all 10 years and every challenge worthwhile.”

Watch Maryland Commerce’s Andrew Sargent present congratulatory citations to Del McCoury and Barb Buehl below.

Video by Heather Wolford, Cumberland Times-News

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and the Allegany County Commission also paid special tribute to Del by naming one of its train cars the “Del McCoury Special.”

Planning is already underway for the 2018 event, and new ideas and activities are being discussed internally, Buehl said. Organizers want to keep the festival around its current size and continue providing more opportunities for visiting families and local vendors in the community.

Stay up to date on the festival by visiting DelFest.com

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Amanda Winters

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