SamJam organizers to offer Spirit of the Bluegrass in June 2023

 When Kentucky natives Sam Karr and Rick Greene heard that the Cornett family’s run with the Festival of the Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky, was coming to an end, they knew it marked a turning point for bluegrass festivals and bluegrass music.

The organizers of the IBMA award-winning SamJam Bluegrass Festival in Piketon, Ohio, have an affinity for the Lexington event that ran for 46 years before its streak ended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You cannot talk about bluegrass festivals and bluegrass music without the Festival of the Bluegrass. I went to that festival every year since it started in 1974 and to think of bluegrass music without it is hard to imagine,” said Karr, who is from London, Kentucky, and now lives in Marshall, Indiana. “Rick and I had an opportunity, we started investigating the possibility of continuing it in some way, and here we are.”

Where they are is announcing that the festival – newly named the Spirit of the Bluegrass – will return to the Kentucky Horse Park on June 8-10, 2023.

The three-day event will again feature some of the best acts in bluegrass music, along with many of the familiar amenities the festival had to offer.

“Our respect for the Cornett family and what it accomplished has no bounds. They are legends in the industry as far as we’re concerned,” Karr said. “We’ll certainly hold true to the things that made the festival successful and we’ll provide a quality entertainment experience that our customers expect.”

Greene said there are challenges to executing the event.

“With SamJam, one of the smartest things we did was plan for two years before we had the first one in 2016. We don’t have that luxury with this event, so we are expediting everything,” said Greene, who grew up in Flatwoods, Kentucky, and now lives in Waverly, Ohio. “From fundraising, to logistics, to working with partners, to booking bands, and everything else, it all has to happen quickly. There are challenges, but Sam and I are committed to doing everything we can to continue this event. It’s hard to stabilize a music festival, but this very important festival has to continue.”

Fundraising efforts are already underway and Greene said establishing public and private partnerships will be critical to the event’s success and longevity.

Karr said there was one thought the pair instantly agreed on when it came to the new festival.

“The Seldom Scene will be there,” said Karr, referring to the band that epitomized the festival. “We’re not sure about everything just yet, but what we do know is the Seldom Scene will be there. We have a few surprises, too, we just have to get our feet under us a bit.”

Greene said a website and a Facebook page will be established in the coming weeks.

For more information on the Spirit of the Bluegrass or the SamJam Bluegrass Festival, contact Karr at (812) 699-0962, Greene at (740) 547-9059 or visit