Rudy Fest kicked off its nineteenth year June 15 at Poppy Mountain.

Rudy Fest is an annual bluegrass festival held in June with both local and widely known bands, food trucks, camping and trail rides named after its founder Rudy Burchett.

“The first year, we decided to raise some money for the youth football program, and from there on it became actually one of the reasons we raise money,” said Tom Carper, a yearly volunteer.

Rudy Fest is run completely by volunteers, with 50 people this year working for the nonprofit. The festival is currently donating to 23 childrens’ programs in Carter County and Rowan County.

“If anyone wanted to sponsor to help go toward kids’ programs, this would be a good time to do it,” said Carper.

This year’s festival was larger than years before in the first weekend with over 100 more campers than in 2018.

“The communities of Carter County and Rowan County are standing behind us,” said Carper.

The first attraction for Rudy Fest took place June 15 and 16 where up-and-coming bluegrass bands competed to be voted number one by attendees. Elderberry Jam, Lonely Mountain Travelers and Sour Mash String Band advanced to the final round, with Lonely Mountain Travelers winning first place.

Later on in the festival, larger names like The Steel Drivers, Sideline, Balsam Range, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage and The Grascals will be playing at the Poppy Mountain Stage.

“We’ve got some of the best in the nation, the best worldwide actually,” said Carper.

The festival continues through Saturday, June 22. For questions about Rudy Fest, call Rudy at 316-6677.

Daneyl Tackett can be reached at dtackett@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.