Ohio County planning four-day Monroe Birthday bash

Bill Monroe’s native Ohio County will celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth with a free four-day festival that includes an 8-foot birthday cake shaped like Monroe’s mandolin and performances by more than a dozen bands.

“There is no better place to celebrate the birthday than in Ohio County, where Bill Monroe was born and it all began,” said Renetta Romero, executive director of the Ohio County Tourism Commission.

“It’s an honor for Ohio County Tourism to arrange an event for such an accomplished native of Ohio County,” she said. “Everywhere he performed, Bill Monroe recognized Rosine and Ohio County. Now it is our turn. We want to recognize the Father of Bluegrass Music’s lifetime achievements and his birth.”

Romero said since no tickets are being sold for the celebration, “we have no idea how many people to expect.”

With Monroe’s birthday on a Tuesday, the crowd could be smaller, she said. But then, many of Monroe’s fans are retired.

“We’re just hoping for a good crowd,” Romero said.

If the 8-foot birthday cake isn’t enough to feed the crowd, she said, “We’ll have some more cakes in reserve too. I’m getting excited about this.”

James Monroe, Bill Monroe’s son, is scheduled to help cut the cake at noon Tuesday on the Monroe Homeplace lawn and lead the singing of “Happy Birthday.”

The festival opens Saturday at 9 a.m. with tours of the Monroe Homeplace on Jerusalem Ridge. The entrance is on U.S. 62 west of Rosine.

Crafts such as quilt making, basket weaving and instrument making with be demonstrated. The Bluegrass Young’uns, a band of Ohio County students, will perform at 2 p.m.

Sunday features an afternoon of gospel music in Rosine Park starting at 1 p.m. with Jerusalem Ridge, God’s Little Voices, Blue River Band featuring Michael T. Jones, County Line and The Chris Jarboe Band Action returns to the Monroe Homeplace at 6 p.m. Monday with performances by Jerusalem Ridge, The Persimmon Sisters, McDonald Road and a “Hee Haw” show by Ohio County’s Courthouse Players.

Tuesday — Monroe’s birthday — will be filled with music starting at 10 a.m.

Acts include the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music, Mountain Drive, Cornfields & Crossroads, Leiper’s Fork Bluegrass Group, Cumberland River, Blue Lonesome, King’s Highway and David Parmley & Continental Divide.

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