Neither the pickers nor the bluegrass fans were bothered by Collier-Seminole State Park’s gators, and Old Charlie, the park’s 16-foot long alligator, didn’t seem to mind the crowds either.
There were just under a dozen live bands drawing nearly 3,000 music fans to the state park’s first Jammin in the Hammock bluegrass festival on Saturday and Sunday.
One band in particular, the Doerfel Family, was the most talked about among spectators before the band even hit the stage Sunday.
Listeners as well as musicians said the Doerfel Family, including nine sibling performers age 2 to 19, was their favorite act of the weekend.
“The Doerfel Family and the Fleas (bands) are the greatest draw,” said park volunteer and festival organizer Rosemary Rengers.
The Fleas, a local band, got their start playing at Flamingo Island Flea Market in Bonita Springs.
Even when the bands were off stage, they had picking circles in the park’s RV sites. Band members from groups including Lazy B Pickers of North Fort Myers, the traditional sounding Carolina Rebels, Bluegrass Stagecoach, Stoney Brook, Flat Mountain String Band and Palms Bluegrass played day and night throughout the weekend.
“People like what they hear. We have a tough time because without a bluegrass radio station in Florida, people aren’t hearing the music,” said Scott Ritter who plays with several local bands, including The Fleas.
Jerry Parker of Marco Island enjoyed the bluegrass festival with his family, including his son Blake, 1, daughter Isabella, 3, and mom Rose. It was the family’s first visit to Collier-Seminole State Park.
Parker said he loves bluegrass but can never find enough places to hear it live.
“I listen to it at home mostly. This is a great place that I could bring the whole family and listen to the music. (The Doerfel Family) was pretty impressive,” he said.
Parker’s sister, Bonnie Gibbs also joined from Marco Island.
“I like the vendors here too. They have great jewelry and food. I bought a necklace made by Navajo Indians,” she said.
Rengers said the first bluegrass event, which replaced the park’s former annual war reenactment, had a much higher turnout than expected.
“We’ll be doing this again next year on the same weekend. People got to a point they could only see so many reenactments of the Third Seminole War… Jammin’ in the Hammock will continue to grow,” she said.
Contact Kelly Farrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.