Foot Stomp'n Festival is a long-standing music tradition

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Thu., Jul. 11, 2013
Poor Old Shine, an Americana band from Storrs featuring (l-r) Harrison Goodale, Antonio Alcorn, Chris Freeman and Max Shakun was the opening act on Saturday morning at the weekend-long Foot Stomp’n Festival at Mineral Springs Campground. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Poor Old Shine, an Americana band from Storrs featuring (l-r) Harrison Goodale, Antonio Alcorn, Chris Freeman and Max Shakun was the opening act on Saturday morning at the weekend-long Foot Stomp’n Festival at Mineral Springs Campground. Photos by Annie Gentile.

The cat’s out of the bag. For nearly 30 years, the Mineral Springs Family Campground has been holding an annual music festival that has been one of the area’s most popular best-kept secrets. Though sometimes referred to as a “bluegrass festival,” the three-day event, generally held on the closest weekend to July 4, features a good variety of music - including bluegrass, folk, zydeco, Americana and more. This year, the festival was held the weekend of July 5 through 7.

“The variety is why we call it a ‘Foot Stomp’n Festival.’ I try to mix it up quite a bit,” said Bill Goodale, who, with the help of several family members, puts the show together each year. “People come up to me each year and give me their card or a CD demo of their group. I try to rotate in and out a few each year, as well as keep a few favorites that are draws. For example, Southern Rail, from the Massachusetts area, they’ve been with me every year from the beginning. They’re like family now. After a while you get to know the circuit.”

Goodale said his family first began holding the festival not long after his parents purchased the campground. He said a family friend had suggested bringing in a couple of bluegrass bands for entertainment, and over the years, the tradition and the number of bands increased to the point that this year’s event featured 11 different bands. He said his father passed away some years ago, but the family really enjoyed doing the festival and decided to continue with it.

For music-lovers, the festival is a real bargain. For $150, a family can camp for the weekend and have all their entertainment taken care of. An antenna is set up at the outdoor stage site and music is transmitted throughout the campground so campers can even enjoy the music from their own sites. Walk-ins are also welcome and visitors can purchase tickets for just Friday, Saturday, or Sunday’s entertainment.

Goodale said the bands are each slated to perform a one- to one-and-a-half-hour set. Friday’s entertainment featured the well-known River City Slim and the Zydeco Hogs and two local bands that had a good pull.

“Mainly the people that will camp here for the weekend follow bluegrass, but a lot of people follow a particular band and will call to find out what day they are scheduled to play in the lineup,” said Goodale.

On Saturday, the music kicked off at 11 a.m. with the four man UConn-based group Poor Old Shine, which had performed the previous year, and the lineup of entertainment continued until nearly midnight. Poor Old Shine performed an eclectic mix of Americana music, entertaining the crowd with guitar, bass fiddle, mandolin, banjo, squeeze-box, and even an old-fashioned pedal-pump organ. At one point, lead singer Chris Freeman added an eerie sound to a song by taking a bow to a hand saw.

“Our campground is all family-run, and it’s just traditional family camping,” said Goodale. “There’s no cable hook-ups or TV hook-ups, but we have the stage set up right near the pool, so people can take a break and go for a swim to cool off if they want.”

Mineral Springs Family Campground is located at 135 Leonard Road in Stafford Springs, and offers daily, weekend, monthly and seasonal camping with water, electric, and sewered sites, as well as wilderness camping. Cabin rentals are also available. For more information, visit www.mineralspringscampground.com.


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