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Bluegrass and Country Festival gets toes tappin'

June 27, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

FAIRPLAY -- When Gordy McCann walked into a coffeehouse in New York City 10 years ago, he couldn't believe his ears.

Musicians were playing banjos at fiber-optic speeds.

This can't be bluegrass, the Virginia-born McCann thought. After all, this is Manhattan.

He soon learned bluegrass music is everywhere.

Saturday, it filled the air in Fairplay.

McCann was among several hundred people who set up their folding chairs to enjoy a day of picking and strumming at the first Bluegrass and Country Festival.

The concert, presented by the nonprofit organization Creating Smiles Inc., was held on the grounds of the Woodmen of the World Lodge on Reichard Road.

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According to Tonie Mills, founder of Creating Smiles, proceeds benefited the Children's National Medical Center, which offers patient services in Hagerstown.

Mills said she started Creating Smiles in September 2008 as a tribute to her late grandfather, William K. Mills Sr.

"He was such a good man," she said. "He was always volunteering, constantly helping people who had fallen on hard times. When he died, I wanted to do something to honor his memory. What better way than to start an organization that touches people's hearts every day with just a smile."

Since founding Creating Smiles, Mills said she has hosted a number of fundraisers, including a motorcycle ride that raised money for Washington County's homeless families, and collecting turkey donations to provide the less fortunate with a Thanksgiving dinner.

Mills said she has had an excellent response from the community, including local businesses that have supported her fundraising efforts.

"I have been absolutely shocked," she said. "With money tight, I wasn't sure what to expect. But everybody has been so willing to help."

At Saturday's bluegrass and country concert, Mills said students from Boonsboro and Williamsport high schools served as volunteers and the Fairplay Fire Department donated its time to do some barbecuing. All proceeds from the barbecue went to the fire department, she said.

Mills said six bands were featured at the music festival, which she hopes will become an annual event.

Among the concertgoers were Virgil and Margaret Harne of Myersville, Md.

"We belong to the lodge and saw the listing for the show," Margaret Harne said. "We thought it would be something nice to do, especially with the beautiful weather. It's much better than staying home and listening to the radio."

McCann, who lives in Boonsboro, said he was raised on bluegrass music and listened to his father play the fiddle almost every night.

"It's music that gets your toes tapping," he said. "Bluegrass and country -- they're pure Americana."

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