It is one of the long-standing traditions in Charlotte that no one knows about … or at least no one really talks about. In June, the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival will celebrate its 44th consecutive year of bringing some of the top musicians in the nation to the community for a weekend of music, fun and fellowship.
Instead of letting another spectacular event silently slip past the collective consciousness of the community, a few members have jumped on the bandwagon to help promoter Wes Pettinger spread the word.
“It is time for the community to get behind this great festival,” said Charlotte resident and musician, Don Sovey, who put out a call to action after hearing Pettinger give a presentation on the festival during an April Charlotte Rotary Club meeting. “This is a national festival that warrants our local support.”
Pettinger took over the promotion of the event in 2013 and has since been committed to boosting its popularity with local community members. The Charlotte Bluegrass Festival is already well known outside of the community.
“For whatever reason, the connection has not been made,” Pettinger said. “Over the last couple years, I’ve found that people locally just don’t know about it. The connections I’ve made this year have been unbelievable … truly a Godsend.”
This year’s Charlotte Bluegrass Festival takes place Thursday, June 16 through Saturday, June 18, the same weekend as Celebrate Charlotte. Instead of competing for recognition, the two events are joining forces to help promote each other in an effort to bring more people to the community in June.
“Collaboration is the key to rebuilding Charlotte,” said Jason Vanderstelt, local resident and businessman committed to Charlotte’s revitalization.  “This is a prime example of an existing asset that has a national draw. Let’s welcome all of these visitors and enjoy their talents as a community.”
In addition to bringing incredible musicians to the area, the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival typically draws hundreds of campers to the Eaton County Fairgrounds each summer. Many campers arrive the Sunday before the festival, often finding their way into the community to shop and dine.
Sovey said the festival drives a large amount of commerce, estimated at $60,000, annually into Charlotte, due to a large national, regional, and local audience that participates.
“We haven’t embraced this asset for our own enjoyment or the engagement of people from around the country,” Vanderstelt said.  “Charlotte wants to welcome all visitors and enjoy the arts. We are very fortunate to be waking up to these opportunities.”
There are a number of ways people can help promote, volunteer time or simply get involved with a nationally-recognized event.
“We have brought a number of community people together to discuss how we can help improve communication and market of the festival,” Sovey said. “We know that word of mouth is the most successful avenue for getting residents to attend. The festival is a great opportunity for community members to volunteer, as many hands are needed to help make the festival successful.”
Tickets for this year’s Charlotte Bluegrass Festival are available at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center, Elderly Instruments in Lansing or online at You can also find a complete lineup for this year’s performers online.
“Even if you are not a devoted fan of bluegrass, once you hear the outstanding quality of the musicianship, you will be convinced that we have a diamond in the rough right here in our own backyard,” Sovey said.
Pettinger is currently working with performers to provide samples of their bluegrass and Americana music at local venues in the community.
“Charlotte has many great music opportunities and this is one more that can enhance the community,” Sovey said. “Charlotte can be a ‘music mecca’ if it so chooses. This is Americana presented at its finest. This music was created in this country.”