RICHMOND - Amateur bluegrass musicians had the opportunity to learn from professionals at the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival.

The four day event happened Thursday through Sunday in the peaceful setting of El Rancho Manana Campground near Richmond.

Bluegrass music festivals are unlike many other music festivals. Most of the people who attend the events go to not only listen to great music, but also to participate in the fun. At this years festival people were also given the opportunity to learn from some of the best bluegrass musicians in the country.

Mike Munford is the banjo player for the Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen band.  Munford and the group are multiple time award winners in the bluegrass world, with Munford being recognized as the top banjo player in the country.

While at many music festivals headline acts have little to no interaction with the general public, Munford and the other members of the band found themselves giving lessons and workshops on bluegrass music.

Munford says playing and teaching off stage are all just apart of bluegrass culture.

"You have a beautiful (outdoor area), and you have people playing all night. People meet people they have never met before and go off in group and jam. It grew into this culture, a bluegrass festival culture of camping and jamming listening to music."

After helping run workshops during the day and playing main stage at night some may wonder how Munford keeps his passion for bluegrass music. He says there many reasons he continues to love bluegrass and the culture around it.

"It's the soul that really speaks to you, and it's lively and it's participatory. That's what makes it so special, almost everyone who attends also plays."

Justin LaBounty WJON

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