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MADRID MAKES MOST OF MUSIC

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MADRID — Campers, country spirit and bluegrass music filled Madrid this weekend for one of the most popular summer festivals in the north country.

For the 23rd year, the Madrid Bluegrass River Festival brought out vendors, crafters, bands and music lovers, although the weather did have an effect on how many people showed up.

“Our attendance is down and it breaks my heart,” said Les E. Haas, one of the festival’s coordinators. “The weather has not been good to us the past three years.”

Although a rainy Friday lowered the attendance of the festival, Saturday’s workshops, fireworks, music and sunshine helped bring the numbers back up.

“The die-hard bluegrass festival people have been coming in,” said festival volunteer Susan A. Wilson. “Today’s been really good, so I’m thinking that it’s going to pick up.”

Mr. Haas said that the crowd picked up as the weather cleared Saturday and that he hoped the rest of the weekend would remain dry.

“It’s not raining now, and if we get anything, it’s going to be a passing shower the rest of the weekend, so I have high hopes,” he said Saturday. “If our day crowd picks up this afternoon and we have a good day crowd tomorrow, we should be OK.”

Peter R. Beckstead, owner of S&B Maple Creations, 261 Sweet Road, had a stand at the festival to sell maple syrup, maple cotton candy and maple lollipops. This weekend was the first time he’s been a vendor at the bluegrass festival.

“I’m glad that Mother Nature is cooperating today,” Mr. Beckstead said Saturday. “Yesterday, it was a little slow, but it was the weather and there’s nothing you can really do about it.”

Mr. Haas said that although there are several vendors that set up stands, the music is what the festival is all about.

“It’s good listening music, and it’s music that’s uniquely American,” Mr. Haas said. “Every song tells a story. It’s music that’s full of life.”

Mr. Haas said there are several different kinds of bluegrass, such as traditional, hard-driving or easy listening.

Saturday’s acts featured bands from the area and from other states, including Nu-Blu from North Carolina.

Also featured Saturday were a mandolin workshop with Dave Nichols of the band Dave Nichols and Spare Change; a banjo workshop with Richard Atkinson of the Atkinson Family Bluegrass Band; a dobro guitar workshop; a workshop about creating better sounds for music, and a fireworks show.

The festivities and music will continue today, along with a raffle for a chain-saw carving. Terry L. McKendree, DeKalb Junction, has been carving wooden animal statues with his chain saw for seven years. Each year, he donates one of his statues for a raffle to raise money for the festival.

“People like the country nature of these carvings,” Mr. McKendree said. “They’re nice for Northern New York because they blend in well with country homes and country living.”

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