Bluegrass in the Blue Ridge: Shriners’ festival raises money for children’s hospitals

Page News and Courier

LURAY — Hundreds are expected to turn out to the Luray VFW this weekend for fast-paced tunes and homemade barbecue, and to raise money and awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

The Caverns Shrine Club's 12th annual Bluegrass in the Blue Ridge music festival will kick off this Thursday, Aug. 4, and will run through Saturday, Aug. 6. All net proceeds raised during the three-day event will benefit the international organization's 22 nonprofit hospitals.

Since forming more than a century ago, more than 300,000 members of the Shriners International fraternity organization have focused on “having fun and helping children.” Each year chapters of the organization throughout the country work to raise funds in support of its health system of hospitals, which provide orthopedic, burn, spinal cord injury and cleft lip and palate care to children under 18 from all financial backgrounds.

Last year, the Caverns Shrine Club raised about $15,000 during its annual bluegrass event. The local group has contributed about $190,000 since the inaugural festival in 2005, according to 25-year Shriner Jerry Dofflemyer of Luray, adding that that number is thanks largely to community sponsors.

Money raised during the event also helps sponsor local kids receiving treatment. The club is currently sponsoring one Page County patient, and last year helped support three local children, paying for their parents' travel, accommodations and meals while receiving medical treatment.

About five years ago, said Dofflemyer, Luray Shriners were able to sponsor and coordinate the care and transportation of a young patient who suffered severe burns after climbing the fence at a power station to retrieve a ball.

This weekend, the Caverns Shrine Club hopes to hit its $200,000 mark for the cause raised through the 12 festivals.

“It's a heart-warming cause to be a part of,” said 20-year Luray Shriner Bill Dudley. “These are first-class hospitals where any child can receive free medical attention.”

The 12th installment of Bluegrass in the Blue Ridge kicks off at 1 p.m. this Thursday at Luray's Comer-Jones VFW Post 621, off Route 211, with bands taking the stage every hour until 9 p.m. Music will continue beginning at 1 p.m. Friday and at 11 a.m. Saturday. More than a dozen bluegrass bands from Virginia and beyond will perform during the three-day event. Food and drinks will be for sale each day, with barbecue chicken available on Friday and Saturday.

Admission is $30 each day or $60 for all three. Kids 12 and under enter free with a parent and kids 13-17 will receive half off the gate price with a parent. Camping opportunities are also available.

“It's great music at a great venue,” said Dudley. “And it's a fun time for a wonderful cause.”

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