“Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, and Marty Stewart — I saw them at Horse Pens 40 in the ‘70s when they were 13 years old,” remembers Boley — founder and executive director of the Alabama Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame — of the future music stars. “And they were wearing it out. That got my blood boiling — to see these kids — who are now superstars.” Boley and Williams continued traveling to gatherings across the country, all the while discussing how to bring their passion to their home state.
“Bluegrass people are just unbelievable,” says Boley, who was seeking to recreate the family atmosphere that he witnessed. “They’re friendly, you can walk into a campsite where there’s a jam session, sit down, jam if you want to, listen — they’ll offer you food…”
But their first step, says Boley, was finding a venue. The two set out to transform Glen’s small farm, located in Webster’s Chapel, into a place for music. After two years of renovations and planning, which included building a stage, installing electricity and designating a camp site area, the festival debuted in August 1992. The name “Foggy Hollow” was born while observing the landscape over a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning on Williams’ porch, recalls Boley.
“There’s a little creek that runs right down through a hollow. We both looked down across the field at that little creek, and there was just a layer of fog down there. We both looked at each other and spoke ‘Foggy Hollow’ about the same time.”
After two decades, Boley’s “got thousands” of memories from the festival, but his personal favorite was seeing Saturday morning personality Cousin Cliff perform his magic show.
“That has to be one of my favorite all-time things,” he remembers. “I grew up watching Cousin Cliff every time I could.”
This year’s gathering is pulling out all the stops in terms of talent, and includes the Georgia-based group Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, who first appeared on the Foggy Hollow Stage at the inaugural event. The roster also includes The Rigney Family Bluegrass Band, vocalist Kelli Johnson and the festival’s own Foggy Hollow Bluegrass Band, which is led by Williams himself.
There’s also a children’s stage, where parents can still keep an eye on their kids while listening to music.
“The kids can just run wild,” says Boley of the open atmosphere. “I have parents that call me … and they say ‘My kids are driving me crazy — when is Foggy Hollow?’”
Tent and RV camping are free with a two-day ticket. Space is first-come, first served.
Boley, who claims that Foggy Hollow is the longest-running bluegrass festival in the state, knows it’s a wonder that they are still hosting the festival, “As we get older … it’s getting harder and harder,” he says of battling the economy and natural disasters to keep things going.
But they aren’t packing up the fiddles just yet.
“The rumor going around is this is our last show, and people ask me that. I say ‘Well, I’ve been hearing it’s our last show for 10 years.’”
Erin Williams is a graduate of Faith Christian School and the University of Alabama. She is a performing arts aide for the Washington Post Style section.
Foggy Hollow Bluegrass Gatherin’
• Tickets are $15 for Friday, $25 for Saturday or $35 for both days.
• Shows begin at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
• Concessions will be available for purchase.
• Visit www.foggyhollow.com or call 256-492-6700 for more information.