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#061 LarryFest Bluegrass Festival by Chuck and Sandi Millar - Lesson Pros

Wow! What a fantastic week at LarryFest!!! Well, we just came down from the biggest high. No, I'm not talking about drugs here. I'm talking about a musical high. That's what just happened at the LarryFest Bluegrass Festival this year. It's that moment when you do something so fun you wish it could continue forever.


We pulled into LarryFest in LaFarge, WI about 8:10 PM on Tuesday the 17th of August, and per instruction, we parked in the parking lot. A perfect spot for Inspiration, our 41' Grand Design Reflection 5th Wheel, to park for the night. Once we were settled, Chuck and I began to play a couple of tunes under the moonlight. The night was off to a great start with a slight breeze carrying the music.


After a short while, this gal came stumbling over in a very happy drunkard state and asked if we would come over and play music at their camp. She told me her name, "Maren" she said. I immediately recognized her from two years ago when we partied with them at their campsite. I shouted in a very exciting way, "I know you!" She said "Oh my God you and Chuck came to our campsite two years ago and played music. We have the "Smoker's Camp." It was like we didn't miss a beat. We connected like we were long-lost family members. To the Smoker's Camp we go. After a short while of playing music, another man wanders into our camp carrying a guitar on his back. He says, in a super polite way, "Hey, I'm Jamie, do you mind if I jam with you?" While listening to Jamie, it felt like I was listening to an old country-western record. Not perfect, but yet so perfect, if that makes any sense. Later in the evening a member of the Smoker's Camp, Chet ended up playing the harmonic with us. It was a nice addition to the jam. What a great way to start our LarryFest. It was a night to remember.


Wednesday morning we woke to a knock at our camper door. It was Skeeter; everyone knows and loves Skeeter. He never wears a shirt but has hair like a sweater. I enjoyed chatting with Skeeter this year. He told me all about how the festival got started and how he and his motorcycle buddies had heard about this LaryFest Festival 22 years ago and decided to stop. The rest was history, as they say, Larry and Skeeter became instant friends and it turns out Skeeter volunteered to take charge of the camping area and has been running it ever since.
LarryFest Photo by Jace Kartye Edited by Charles Millar
Photo by Jace Kartye Edited by Charles Millar


Wednesday we headed to Leo and Leona's, Fireside Collective was playing. First of all, What a great venue! The room is all old boards where there is a natural reverb that happens in this room. If you are ever passing through Bangor, WI, stop a Leo and Leona's Bar. Be sure to check out the back room. Fireside Collective put on a fantastic show with well-thought-out intricate arrangements. Their music is on another level of musicianship. Here is a very informative interview with Fireside Collective. What a great band! One thing that helps make the band sound the best that it can be is the soundman. I will give credit to Rusty Hohlfeld for the incredible sound.


We finally got a chance to meet Rusty and his now lovely wife Mary Hohlfeld backstage at the Blue Ox Festival a few years back. It turns out Rusty used to host a radio show WDRT and would play our band, No Grass Limit on his show weekly. One song he liked to play on his show was "Good Ole Days of Bill Monroe" which is a song Chuck and I wrote. It's been a few years since Blue Ox we are happy to say we've been friends with Mary and Rusty ever since. They are the ones who introduced us to LarryFest, and we are so thankful they did. Mary is currently taking guitar and voice lessons with me, and we have a blast every week!


The original version of "Good Ole Days of Bill Monroe" started with us using 45 Bill Monroe song titles throughout the song, which made it over 9 minutes long. Well, that would never get the song on the radio because it was way too long. The song needed to be cut down. We ended up recording the shorter version of the song in Nashville with Randy Kohrs at Slack Key Studios and got the recorded version down to 25 Bill Monroe song titles, which made the song 3 minutes and 21 seconds long. Perfect for radio time!


I wanted to find out more about LarryFest, so I asked Rusty if he could answer a few questions about the festival. He gladly obliged.

Sandi: How did LarryFest get started?

Rusty: Larryfest started in 1998 on a maple syrup processing farm in the Driftless region of Wisconsin by the Sebranek family after they went to Telluride, CO to see the fest there in early June one year. That's when they wanted to do a festival of their own.

Sandi: I understand that tickets tend to sell out fast. So if someone would like to attend LarryFest where and when can they buy tickets?

Rusty: Yes, there is a limit of 1,000 tickets sold each year. You can purchase advanced tickets from the kvama.org website starting in December.

Sandi: When is LarryFest?

Rusty: It's always the first full weekend in Aug.

Sandi: Who are some of the sponsors?

Rusty: Some of the sponsors include Dave's Guitar Shop, String Swing, Organic Valley Foods, and Pearl Street Brewery.

Sandi: Where do the proceeds go?

Rusty: The money they make at the fest goes back into improvements plus the fire department, police, ambulance, and food pantry all receive a portion.

Sandi: Is there food available at the festival?

Rusty: LarryFest has its own vendor stand that sells burgers, brats, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches. Other vendors include Queens Apple that sells french fries, batter-fried cheese curds, and Carmel apples. There is a coffee vendor and a pizza vendor plus Organic Valley has a breakfast either Friday or Saturday Morning.

Sandi: Who are the bands this year at LarryFest?

Rusty: Some of the bands this year are the Dillards, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Sideline, Appalachian Road Show, Volume Five, Fireside Collective, Henhouse Prowlers, Don Rigsby, No Grass Limit, Bluegrass Outlaws, Tom Wopat of The Dukes of Hazzard, and many other local and regional acts including Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellies.

Sandi: Is LarryFest a family-friendly festival?

Rusty: Yes, kids 12 and under are free with paid parents.
LarryFest Photo Credit Marnie Hofmeisyer-Pooley
Photo Credit Marnie Hofmeisyer-Pooley

Sandi: We know there is camping allowed for the festival. How do people register to camp?

Rusty: Motorhomes and travel trailers must register ahead of the fest. Forms are on the kvama.org website.

Sandi: Thanks Rusty for taking the time to answer a few questions about LarryFest. Where can people go to get more information on the festival?

Rusty: Our website is: kvama.org You can also check out our Facebook Page: KVAMA LARRYFEST PAGE


This year our band No Grass Limit was asked to play both the Little Valley Stage and the Main Stage at LarryFest. Wow! This is truly an honor. We played on Thursday at the Little Valley Stage. Mary Cortesi was in charge of the Little Valley Stage. She does a great job running the stage and keeping things organized. Not to mention, she is an awesome musician herself. Chuck and I played as a duet for the Little Valley Stage. One of the most memorable moments about the Little Valley Stage was when we played the song "Rough" and dedicated it to Rusty and Mary Hohlfeld. They have just gotten married this past month and we were glad to be invited to the wedding. This is what we call a "Festival Moment". (See more festival moments later in this article.) We can't thank Renee Kendall for asking No Grass Limit to play the Main Stage at LarryFest this year. Our No Grass Limit time slot was at 2:00 pm on Saturday. It was amazing to be playing on this stage!!! The crowd was very receptive. We almost completely sold out of all our T-shirts and CDs. It was very helpful to have my girlfriend Adelle working the merchandise table. Thank you to Adelle and everyone who supported No Grass Limit at LarryFest. We love all of you!


Every year at Larryfest they have a Saturday Tradition where "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" is played by the house band. Everyone gathers by the Main Stage and forms multiple circles that intertwine. From what I understand, Becky Winters and John Smith are the musicians that made it all happen with the circle. Becky is now 91 years young. John Smith is an incredible singer-songwriter.
Drone Footage by Peter Bourne


After the craziness of each festival, Chuck and I have a quiet and peaceful moment of reflection where we sit and talk about what we call "Festival Moments". Sunday as LarryFest was winding down, after we were all packed up and ready to head out, we sat down and asked each member of No Grass Limit band what their "Festival Moments" were.

Here are the results:

Brent Fuqua - Mandolin

  • Hanging out and working hard to do the show with No Grass Limit
  • Michael Cleveland was so powerful - going out beyond the level of musicianship
  • Hanging out with friends

Joe Meyer - Bass

  • Smoker's Camp
  • Michael Cleveland - You can see the joy from the band and the crowd. They all perform with a relaxed feel.
  • Brent's coffee
  • The rain, something magical about the rain
  • This is one of the most beautiful places in the country with the rolling hills
Chuck Millar - Fiddle
  • Living in the eternal now
  • Talking about appreciation for love for family. See relationships differently
  • Jamming with mandolin player Brent and bass player Joe
  • Sandi's guitar solos and being able to play music with my wife
  • Singing "By the Mark" at the Smoker's Camp with our girlfriend Adelle

Sandi Millar - Guitar

  • Doing the circle dance with everyone by the Main Stage during "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"
  • Performing on the Main stage
  • Hanging out and playing music at the Smokers Camp.
  • When we sang "Rough" on the Little Valley Stage and dedicated it to Mary and Rusty for their wedding. It was so sweet to see them dancing.
  • During Andy Hughes' set at the Little Valley Stage, a transformer blew and we all grabbed our chairs and move up for an acoustic set. It was a beautiful moment.

Adelle Hykas - CD Sales Gal

  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken
  • Chill vibe dancing
  • Watching this sweet couple dancing
  • Young kids hola hooping
  • During Andy Hughes' set at the Little Valley Stage, a transformer blew and we all grabbed our chairs and move up for an acoustic set. It was a beautiful moment.

LarryFest Photo Credit KVAMA
Photo Credit KVAMA


  • Mary's brother Wayne ended up making fajitas for the whole band. We all agreed Wayne's Fajitas were the best!!!
  • Watching the horse and buggies going back and forth on the road. There is something about the Amish charm.
  • Community coming together.
  • LarryFest is one big happy family.
  • New Friendships made
  • Ohhh and one last thing; Skip Cherryholmes jumping off the stage and playing in the crowd. Yep, that will get you every time.
LarryFest Jamming Photo Credit KVAMA
Photo Credit KVAMA


This year, I decided to go a little farther into asking the fans of Larryfest about their "Festival Moments". The results were fantastic to hear, so I thought it would be fun to share them with you all.

Joanne and Don from Florida

  • Corn on cob
  • The eclectic mix of music
  • The excitement of first-timers on the different stages
  • Inspired by the different kinds of bluegrass, different intrusions of the music applied to the different genres.
  • Love bands with female singers
  • Michael Cleveland
  • Jerusalem Ridge Casey Dreson
  • Don Rigsby


  • Voices harmonizing
  • The trees
  • Beautiful voices in the valley send chills throughout your body
  • Larry gave the Smoker's Camp its name
  • The creek by our camp


  • No Grass Limit
  • Appalachian Road Show
  • Acapella song

LarryFest Crowd

Mary H

  • The thing about Larryfest I liked the best was seeing your band No Grass Limit on stage after hearing you on the radio.
  • I had so much fun telling everyone you were my teacher and why you were up there.
  • Having my first in-person lesson with you instead of on Skype was amazing.
  • We had so much fun and then jamming with you, Chuck, Rusty, and the rest of the people whom I can't remember all their names LOL. It was so much fun just being able to do what I could at the jam.
  • Dancing with Rusty when you and Chuck sang a song for us on the lower stage Thursday evening was a highlight of mine. Then singing a song with you all was fun and scary at the same time.


Just in case you missed it. Thank you to everyone who said it was okay to use these pictures and drone footage in this article. LarryFest Photo Credit KVAMA
Photo Credit KVAMA


Well, that's a wrap, another great festival under our belt. Thank you to Larry for putting on such a great festival, and thank you to Renee for managing all the bands for the main stage. We know how much work this is to coordinate all the bands. Thank you to Mary Cortessi for managing the little stage and for the information on "Will the Circle Be Unbroken". Thank you to the soundman Tim (Main Stage) and Chris (Little Valley Stage). Rusty and Mary Hohlfeld for introducing us to LarryFest. Last but not least, thank you to all the volunteers. Festivals can't happen without volunteers. You all are very much appreciated. Every festival needs volunteers to make it happen. If you are headed to a festival soon, be sure to ask if you can help out in any way. It's very rewarding to volunteer, plus you get to meet some really cool like-minded people. Until next year LarryFest family! We are so glad we got to be a part of such a great community of people. Hope to see you all in a year.
LarryFest Photo Credit High and Rising
Photo Credit High and Rising

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