Here are some clues that summer is upon us: Sultry nights, bare feet in the cool grass, the smell of barbeque and the sweet sounds of bluegrass music. In truly Oregonian tradition, our bluegrass festivals are kid-friendly, camping venues with locally and lovingly crafted product: In this case, music.

“It feels like a big family reunion,” said Gene Bach, promoter of the Clatskanie Bluegrass Festival, one of many upcoming bluegrass shows. This festival counts all music lovers as part of the family.

The Apple Jam Music Festival in Williams (near Grants Pass) gets the season started at the Provolt Store and Campground May 20-22.

Bend’s “High & Dry Bluegrass Jammin’ Retreat” May 27-29 is a weekend of “jammin’, and pickin,'” (their dropped g’s, not ours, but we’re diggin’ it.). Musicians of all levels are welcome and should think about returning Aug.19-21 for the “High & Dry Bluegrass Festival,” with a lineup of great professional performers.

The Historic Sunshine Mill Winery in The Dalles will hold its inaugural Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival on Saturday, June 18, from noon to 10 p.m. Blackstrap from Bend, the Shedshakers from Hood River, and other local talent will play in the mill’s basalt amphitheater.

July 21-24 will see the 10th annual Northwest String Summit at Horning’s Hideout near Portland with the ever-popular Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, and Keller and the Keels, among others.

Another local favorite, the indie-roots festival Pickathon, is set for Aug. 5-7 in Happy Valley, and this year welcomes the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mavis Staples.

That same weekend, Bach’s festival will bring in eight bands, including the Urban Monroes and True North, to the little town near the mouth of the Columbia River. Bach said the festival, which is free and its 15th year, is a great place for the veteran picker and the newbie to join one of many jam circles under the stars.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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