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Patriotism, music, racing action among Memorial Day weekend offerings

Patriotism, music, racing action among Memorial Day weekend offerings

May 23, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

Memorial Day weekend is often a time for families and extended families to get together, reminisce and get the grill out, perhaps for the first time of the season.

It's also a time of remembering those who have sacrificed for their country and a time for fun events for the family.

Activities this holiday weekend include two parades, a carnival with live music, a historic weapons firing demonstration, the opening of public pools and a brand-new music festival in Cumberland, Md., that features national acts.

DelFest, which runs today through Sunday at Allegany County Fairgrounds, is named for bluegrass veteran Del McCoury, who will perform with his band all three days.


Also performing is country music hottie Dierks Bentley and his band, plus Vince Gill's Bluegrass Band, Sam Bush, Keller and the Keels, David Grisman and Railroad Earth.

In addition to plenty of live music, McCoury says his son, Ronnie, will do a show for kids, Little Mo' Kids Show, featuring music from Ronnie McCoury's children's album.

Other children's activities include former Phish drummer Jon Fishman showing his skills, a chance to meet the Del McCoury Band, and the "Deep Fried Pickle Project" in which participants will learn how to pimp their washboard, play the saw and get ideas for other wacky, homemade instruments.

Del McCoury says he'd always wanted to have a festival and started this one at the suggestion of one of his managers.

"I had a lot of help or I probably wouldn't have started this," says McCoury, 69, who lives in Nashville.

McCoury used to live in York County, Pa., and often performed in Southern Pennsylvania and Western Maryland more than 40 years ago.

"The first radio (station) I really played was (in) Chambersburg," McCoury says. He was playing banjo for the Stevens Brothers, and he played live for a Saturday morning music show on WCBG.

McCoury also remembers a banjo player with the group, Paul Chaney of Clear Spring. Chaney, 71, who still lives in Clear Spring, remembers working with the bluegrass star.

"Del was learning to play the banjo from me. He had just started to learn to play the banjo," recalls Chaney. He, too, remembers when the two of them along with mandolin player Keith Daniels and the Stevens brothers performed for the Chambersburg station in the 1960s. Chaney says he still performs publicly occasionally, often in Frederick, Md.

McCoury also played with bluegrass legend Bill Monroe.

McCoury is optimistic that DelFest will become an annual event, saying the Allegany County Fairgrounds is a beautiful location that looks out across the Potomac River to West Virginia with a rock cliff from which people can hang-glide into the fairgrounds.

Admission prices vary. For more information about DelFest, call 510-547-1992 or go to

Also this weekend:

Other events going on this holiday weekend, some starting today, include:

· The Memorial Day Classic at Mason-Dixon Dragway, 21003 National Pike, east of Hagerstown, runs today through Monday. Four days of racing includes a Friday Nite Gamblers Race with gates opening at 3 p.m., time trials at 5 p.m. and eliminations around 7 p.m.; and junior dragsters on Sunday. Spectator admission is $10 each day; free for ages 11 and younger. For more information, go to or call 301-791-5193.

· Hagerstown Speedway, 15112 National Pike west of Hagerstown, will host the Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic Late Model Sportsman Special 25-lap Charity Race, a 20-lap, late-model sportsman and a 30-lap, enduro dash today with pit gates opening at 4 p.m. and grandstands opening at 5 p.m. General admission is free Friday night. All donations go to Speedway Children's Charity.

The 13th annual Richard "Boney" Bonebrake Tribute will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday with late models, late-model sportsman and pure stocks races. Old Timers Night features drivers from the 1960s and 1970s meeting fans.

Call 301-582-0640 or go to

· Great Boonsboro Rescue Co. Carnival starts today and runs through Saturday, May 31, in Shafer Memorial Park in Boonsboro. Carnival opens at 5 p.m. Amusement rides include big bumper cars, Dutch ferris wheel, a steel track roller coaster, Pharaoh's Fury (big swinging boat ride), the Ring of Fire (train cars run around the inside of a doughnut-shaped track with the doughnut standing on its edge), and Starship 3000 (people stand along the outer wall as the saucer-shaped ride spins and they defy gravity), says Jack Stoorza, business manager for Reithoffer Shows. Nightly concerts at 7:30 p.m. include Georgia Lea & Stone Cold Country tonight, The Fabulous Hubcaps on Saturday, Tori Anderson & Possum Holler on Sunday, and Jason Mitchell on Monday. Call 301-432-6979.

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