Albemarle bluegrass festival generates funding for resource center

ALBEMARLE — Featuring a lineup of seven different bands, the first-annual Recovery Road Bluegrass Festival was held on Saturday to help raise money for a good cause. The benefit concert for the Will’s Place Recovery Resource Center was an all-day event of bluegrass at The Lodge on Hatley Farm venue located in Albemarle.

With over three decades in the music business, the International Bluegrass Music Association award-winning Lonesome River Band headlined a slate of musicians that included Sweet Potato Pie, Drive Time, Wildwood Honey, The Scott Family, Carley Hatley, and Gabe Webster.

The final amount of funding raised for Will’s Place on Saturday is still being processed, but an early estimate indicates that nearly $10,000 was generated and will go directly into programs that are being started at the resource center.

Will’s Place was founded four years ago by Albemarle native Allison Hudson, who lost her brother to a fentanyl overdose in 2012. Hudson created the center with the official mission statement that residents of Stanly County who are seeking sobriety “can have opportunities to achieve their fullest educational, occupational and civic potential.”

Due to the success of the inaugural Recovery Road Bluegrass Festival, next year’s concert will likely be extended into a two-day format.

“We’re so excited about how this festival turned out; this far exceeded all of our expectations,” said Caitlin McAlhany, director of faith-based programming for Will’s Place, who estimated that around 400 people attended the festival. “When we started thinking about doing a festival, we thought about how bluegrass is a Stanly County staple. We could not have done this without our community, so we’re just so grateful for everybody that volunteered and sponsored us.”

McAlhaney told SCJ that the inviting atmosphere of the day — which was marketed as a sober event — allowed attendees to open up in a public setting about their own struggles and successes dealing with drug and alcohol abuse.

“It was cool to hear the bands’ stories on how they were connected to addiction and recovery. I had no idea about that when I booked them to play, so it really came full circle,” she said. “People who weren’t used to talking about those topics were given a safe place to do it. That was our goal and what we hoped this festival would do.”

Aside from the constant music on the band stage, the festival gave attendees an array of activity options with country line dance lessons, art vendors, yard games and stations geared towards kids. The event also featured yoga sessions, 12-step meetings, morning prayers and testimonies from those currently in recovery.

The many vendors available on site included Whataburger, On Time Snacks, Fatback Soul Food, Reservoir Coffee, and Sno Biz for food and drink options, while Hey Sis Boutique, Bearwick Candle Co., and Hinson Design Shop joined over a dozen other retail vendors.