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Annual Music Fest ‘N Sugar Grove to Honor Doc and Rosa Lee Watson in Cove Creek July 10-11

By Jessica Isaacs

World-renowned recording artists and local favorites will convene to pay tribute to a beloved bluegrass great at the annual Doc and Rosa Lee Watson Music Fest ‘N Sugar Grove on July 10-11 at the Historic Cove Creek School.

Doc Watson Day
Flowers adorn the downtown Boone statue of the bluegrass great on Doc Watson Day 2014. Photo courtesy of Music Fest ‘N Sugar Grove.

The Blue Ridge Mountains make a perfect backdrop for this intimate, family-friendly festival, which boasts headlining standouts like Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, the Krüger Brothers, Town Mountain, the Snyder Family Band, Amantha Mill, Savannah Smith and many more.

Established in the late 1990s, the festival’s mission was, and still is, twofold — to support community development in the historic Cove Creek area of Watauga County and to carry on the legacy of the great Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson.

Watson — a Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and flatpicking legend — performed annually at the festival until he passed away in 2012 at the age of 89. Despite his notoriety, the humble musician and family man preferred to be known as “just one of the people.” Following the death of his wife of more than 60 years, Rosa Lee, organizers changed the name of the festival later that year to honor the Watsons’ memory.

More than 20 well-known names in the bluegrass world will come together for the annual two-day festival on July 10-11, including nationally acclaimed artists and many up-and-coming hidden gems of the High Country.

Artists will perform throughout the weekend on the outdoor main stage, inside the Doc Watson Museum (located within the school building) and on a solar-powered stage sponsored by the Appalachian State University sustainable development program.

Inside the on-site “pickin’ parlor,” participating artists and headlining performers will team up with festivalgoers and local musicians for an impromptu weekend-long jam session.

In addition to the great music, local vendors will offer food, refreshments and a variety of crafts and artwork.

Located just over seven miles west of Boone, the Historic Cove Creek School building creates the perfect mountain getaway for a weekend music festival that’s still convenient for locals and visitors. Nestled within the quiet community of Sugar Grove, this WPA-era rock building once housed the former Cove Creek High School and is now a thriving community center thanks to the work of the Cove Creek Preservation and Development organization.

Tickets to the festival are on sale now online and at the following locations:

  • Boone Drug, Deerfield
  • Mast General Store, Boone
  • Mast General Store, Valle Crucis
  • Cove Creek Store, Sugar Grove
  • Historic Cove Creek School
  • Boone Drug, Foscoe
  • Welcome Center, Mountain City, Tennessee

Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Two-day Reserved Seats: $55
  • Two-day General Admission: $40
  • Friday General Admission: $20
  • Saturday General Admission: $25

Advanced tickets will be mailed to your address. Tickets purchased after June 30 will be held at the gate in Will Call. Advanced sales will close on Wednesday, July 8 at 5 p.m. Tickets will be available at the gate.

The festival is hosted every year by CCP&D. A longtime supporter, the Mast General Store returns as the presenting sponsor for the second year in a row.

For directions to the school, tickets, performer bios and more, visit the festival online at www.musicfestnsugargrove.org, call 828-297-2200 or contact an event coordinator at info@musicfestnsugargrove.org.


Doc and Rosa Lee Watson Music Fest ’N Sugar Grove 2015 Lineup:


On the Main Stage:

  • 12:30-12:45 p.m. – Opening Ceremony
  • 1-1:45 p.m. – Strictly Strings
  • 2-3 p.m. – Jim Lloyd
  • 3:15-4:15 p.m. – Savannah Smith
  • 4:30-5:30 p.m. – Honey Chasers
  • 5:45-6:45 p.m. – ClayBank
  • 7-8:30 p.m. – Billy Strings
  • 9-10:30 p.m. – Town Mountain
  • 10:30 p.m. – Jam

On the Solar Stage:

  • 1-1:45 p.m. – Jeb Wooley
  • 2-2:45 p.m. – Mike Preslar
  • 3-3:45 p.m. – Cane Mill Road
  • 4-4:45 p.m. – Tennessee Blackbirds
  • 5-5:45 p.m. – Red Leg Husky
  • 6-6:45 p.m. – Sweet Treats


On the Main Stage:

  • 10-10:45 a.m. – Cane Mill Road
  • 11 a.m. to noon – Tennessee Blackbirds
  • 12:15-1:15 p.m. – Spirit Fiddle
  • 1:30-2:30 p.m. – Honey Chasers
  • 2:45-3:45 p.m. – Surefire
  • 4:30-6 p.m. – Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
  • 6:15-7:30 p.m. – The Snyder Family Band
  • 7:30-7:45 p.m. – Doc Watson Award of Scholarship
  • 8-8:45 p.m. – Charles Welch Tribute to Doc Watson
  • 9-10:30 p.m. – The Krüger Brothers
  • 10:30 p.m. – Jam

On the Solar Stage:

  • Noon to 12:45 p.m. – Amantha Mill
  • 1-1:45 p.m. – Sweet Treats
  • 2-2:45 p.m. – Strictly Strings
  • 3-3:45 p.m. – Savannah Smith
  • 4-4:45 p.m. – Jim Lloyd
  • 5-5:45 p.m. – Brandon Holder

In the Museum:

  • Noon to 12:45 p.m. – Keith Ward, Cowboy Poet
  • 1-1:45 p.m. – Jim Lloyd
  • 2-2:45 p.m. – Amantha Mill
  • 3-3:45 p.m. – Fiddle Workshop with Bob Kogut
  • 4-4:45 p.m. – The Krüger Brothers