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River City BarnFest really raises the roof - and funds

Proceeds pay for fixing up Springfield Farm Barn

July 02, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • The bluegrass band The Back Creek Valley Boys performs Saturday at River City BarnFest in Williamsport.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

WILLIAMSPORT, Md. — When Joan Knode decided to bring a music festival to the Springfield Farm Barn, it was a lofty undertaking.

After all, nothing like it had ever been held.

But Knode saw the centuries-old structure as much more than a building with exposed timber and plank floors.

Situated in the middle of an idyllic historic farmstead, she thought it would be the perfect setting for entertainment.

After seven months of planning, Knode's dream became a reality this weekend with performers taking to the stage for the first River City BarnFest.

The event began Friday night and continues through today.

Knode, a Williamsport town councilwoman, said the festival grew out of a concert held last year as a kickoff to the Fourth of July weekend.

"It was such a success, the mayor suggested we do it again, but this time for the whole weekend," she said.

Knode said she began planning for the event in January and was assisted by her daughter-in-law, Tearza Knode, who was in charge of booking the entertainment.

"We knew the barn would be a great place to hold the event," Joan Knode said. "I can't think of another venue quite like this."

BarnFest is put on by the Town of Williamsport as a fundraiser for the barn at Springfield Farm, she said.

Springfield Farm is the home of the town's founder, Otho Holland Williams.

Money raised from the festival will be used to support ongoing maintenance and restoration to the barn.

"Currently, we're restoring the nine cupolas on the barn, which were really rotting," she said.

Knode said more than 600 people attended the festival's opening on Friday night.

"Everyone was having a great time," she said. "The place was vibrating."

She was expecting an equally enthusiastic crowd on Saturday.

"I know it's going to be hot, but we're prepared," Knode said. "We have a misting tent for people to cool off, as well as several shaded areas."

In addition to musical entertainment, the festival features a children's play area, food vendors, and beer and wine for adults 21 and older. The featured wine is from a Maryland vineyard, Knode said.

Among those attending Saturday's BarnFest were Aaron and Ava Hortski of Hagerstown.

"We enjoy attending outdoor concerts," Aaron Hortski said. "And this is so close to home, we thought it would be a great way to spend part of our July Fourth weekend."

Hortski said he is a fan of bluegrass music, one of the genres featured during BarnFest.

"It's one of the reasons we're here," he said.

Other music includes country and indie-folk artists.

With hundreds of people blanketing the grounds around the barn, it's a sight Otho Holland Williams probably never envisioned, Knode said.

"But there's a still house on the property where they made whiskey," she said. "So they probably had a few parties up here."

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