When it comes to music festivals in St. Joseph, nothing is promised. It takes hard work and engaging with specific audiences.

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Hitting its 10th year with the 2019 festival, Bluegrass Battles Hunger has found its fan base and used it to help raise thousands of dollars and pounds of food for people in St. Joseph.

Returning Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27 and 28, at Coleman Hawkins Park in Downtown St. Joseph, Bluegrass Battles Hunger will do what it’s best at — bringing some of the area’s best bluegrass and folk bands to help the local Second Harvest Community Food Bank.

This year’s lineup will include the Matt Hawkins Band, fan favorites Betse & Clarke, Travis Brink & Friends and Lost Cowgirl Revue, among others.

The bluegrass festival was started in 2010 by Chad Higdon, former chairman for the festival and chief executive officer for Second Harvest. Inspired by formerly thriving folk festivals like Wakarusa in Lawrence, Kansas, and his late brother’s love of bluegrass, he wanted to give the area a taste of the genre while helping feed those in need.

“There’s just a huge gap in the Midwest of anything like this. And so far, the response has actually been unbelievable. Not only are people coming from Missouri and Kansas, but we have people coming from Colorado and California,” he said in 2010.

Serving as the president of Bluegrass Battles Hunger, Meaghan Simpson said as a bluegrass fan, it’s something that’s remained far removed from what the rest of city’s other music festivals have to offer.

“There is definitely a need for something like this in St. Joe because you don’t see a ton of bluegrass festivals (here). So it helps us draw those acts to our area,” she said.

Through the years, the response has grown, as people and performers come in from out of state to see the festival’s array of bluegrass artists. Some have fallen in love with it so much that they’re repeat performers, while others have never

Andrew Gaug can be reached at andrew.gaug@newspressnow.com.

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