In an effort to incorporate local businesses and the business district into the third annual Lemon Lily Festival, organizers are planning to add an in-town Bluegrass Festival for Saturday, July 21. Idyllwild had a Bluegrass Festival from 1974 to 1979, and at the time it was the only Bluegrass Festival in Southern California.

In a departure from last year’s festival, nearly all events will be held at the Nature Center rather than having some at Town Hall. Because of this change, organizers felt they could best secure support from local businesses by providing in-town entertainment, which would attract patrons to the town core.

“We depend on the donations and sponsorships of the businesses,” said acting Chairperson Toni Bertholette. The likely location for the Bluegrass Festival is the street between Jo’An’s Restaurant and the Fort.

Committee member, local businessman and festival supporter Bryan Tallent, along with Town Crier Publisher Grace Reed, pitched the idea of the Bluegrass Festival. They referred to last year’s in-town post Jazz Festival concert at Jo’An’s beer garden as a starting point for what they envision could build to a multi-day festival in its own right. “The history of this town was not built around art or jazz,” said Tallent. “It was built around logging and sawmills and the blue-grass music that would have accompanied that industry and those workers.”

Since the Lemon Lily Festival recalls the same time period when the lily was most ubiquitous, Tallent said it’s appropriate to feature the music of that period. He cautioned, “This must be true bluegrass, so that it would bring true bluegrass fans to this mountain town.”

Tallent proposed that every business in town would be asked to help sponsor the Bluegrass Festival with a $25 donation. He felt the amount of the donation is appropriate given the current economy and the fact that the proposed festival is being produced to benefit the town, its merchants, restaurants and inns. Local non-profits could have booths at the festival but no off-Hill business that would compete with local merchants would be permitted.

With a go-ahead from the committee, Tallent and Reed will start planning a budget and searching for a headliner.

In other business, the committee agreed to meet weekly beginning Thursday, March 22, at 1 p.m. at the Nature Center. Other areas of ongoing discussion include public outreach to other festivals including the Temecula Balloon Festival, the Lavender Festival in Beaumont and the Big Morongo Spring Fest; a banner project to be undertaken with the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, the logistics and cost of providing shuttle vans, the creation of an event timeline, and updates on all the events currently under discussion which include: high country hikes, Pioneer Town, the Lemon Lily quilt raffle, a local Bikeathon, public walks at the Nature Center, Idyllwild Garden Club hosted walks and the viewing of blooming lemon lilies creek side at Erin O’Neill’s Alpen Woods property.

“We need more volunteers,” Tallent stressed. “This festival is completely volunteer produced.”