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And Under are Free!

WELCOME ❤️
We're SO GLAD YOU MADE IT HERE!

HEY, YA'LL!

THEY DON't CALL US THE BEST FAMILY FRIENDLY BLUEGRASS FEST FOR NOTHIN' - KEEP SCROLLIN' AND FIND OUT WHY...

We're SHADY

DARE WE SAY THE COOLEST MIDWEST MUSIC FEST IN JULY? OUR STAGES, ACTIVITIES, AND VENDOR AREAs are COVERED IN SHADE THANKS TO OUR 50+ YEAR OLD WALNUT TREE GROVE.

CAMPING INCLUDED

Tent and Car camping INCLUDED with every GA Ticket! Need a quiet space? We have FREE family camping available . RV camping available for a small fee.

BLUEGRASS LEGENDS

Our alumni is growing and we couldn't be more proud of the artists that have graced our stageS OVER THE YEARS. Yonder Mountain, Infamous Stringdusters, LEFTOVER SALMON, THE DILLARDS, DALE WATSON, Peter Rowan, DEL McCOURY, Bela Fleck, michael cleveland, KELLER WILLIAMS & SO MANY MORE!

PLEASE BRING YOUR DOG(S)

Our furry friends may have a better time than their humans. Good boys and girls are welcome to Pickin' at no extra charge. Dogs love good music too!

ACTUALLY, BRING THE WHOLE FAMILY

Unplug and enjoy a weekend full of FAMILY friendly activities that will be sure to make lasting memories. Take part in our new Kids Only Vending Event and let your little entrepreneurs run their business while you sit back and enjoy the festivities.

WE'vE GOT AMENTITIES

And they're free! the large showerhouse is available to anyone at anytime. water stations throughout the venue to KEEP you hydrated. And if that doesn't quinch your thirst, we have gorgeous lake and river access to dive into.

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THE PICKIN' ON PICKNIC STORY

   Our story is full of love, pain, family, lots of hard work, growth, and a pinch of mandolins and banjos. What a wonderful journey it has been and a privilege to have you as a part of it all.

 

 

Nestled in the Ozark Hills of Missouri, a musical tradition was born in the fall of 2015. It all began when a group of friends, bound by a shared love for bluegrass music, decided to create a unique event that would bring together musicians, enthusiasts, and families for a weekend of harmony and joy. We envisioned a gathering where the soulful sounds of banjos, fiddles, and mandolins would sing out beneath the open sky, creating a musical tapestry that celebrated the rich culture and diversity of the bluegrass world.

 

We worked tirelessly securing a picturesque venue on the banks of the Courtois river where the atmosphere resonated with the warmth of community. Thus, Pickin’ On Music Festivals was born, and little did we know, it would soon grow into a beloved tradition. After our first year, with no experience in hosting an event on this scale, no 2-way radios, no golf carts to get from end to end of the festival grounds, and a lot of love and hope in our hearts….we were hooked. The planning for the 2016 Pickin’ started immediately.

 

The growing family that was made every year as we planned these events could have never been predicted. The way everyone jumped on board to help wherever and whenever needed was an inspiration and a testament to what we were trying to nurture. From the very first spark of Pickin’, we had a faithful tribe of people who volunteered year round to help execute the long list of tasks needed to pull off a successful event. One of the most eager and closest friends in our early days was Steve Kenion. Steve was always enthusiastic and ready for anything we threw his way – but he loved helping most with videography and capturing the magic. 

 

Our boutique festival’s unique charm lay not only in the stellar lineup of renowned bluegrass artists but also in its laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere. Attendees are encouraged to bring their instruments, camping gear, and picnic blankets, transforming the festival grounds into a sprawling, impromptu jam session that continues long into the night.

 

Each year, Pickin’ drew an eclectic crowd of bluegrass aficionados, from seasoned pickers to curious newcomers eager to explore the genre. The festival showcased a diverse range of bluegrass styles, from traditional to progressive, ensuring that every musical taste was satisfied. Our stages have hosted national touring bands as well as emerging talents, fostering an environment where artists can connect with their audience on a personal level. Our original idea was to change locations of the event each year to different riverside venues, to keep things interesting and intriguing. The logistics of that idea proved to be very challenging. But in our third year, we were still changing it up despite those hurdles.

 

Then suddenly, two weeks before Pickin’ On the Courtois 2017, tragedy stuck. We were devastated to learn of the passing of our dear friend Steve Kenion, who was an integral part of our community and huge contributor to Pickin’. Our hearts were broken, but we pushed through and were able to carry on with the event. That year’s festival really showed us how the support of community and the balm of music can soothe and heal during times of grief.

 

In 2018 we threw the first Pickin’ On Picknic Festival at Lost Hill Lake in St. Clair, along the banks of the beautiful Meramec River. Many of the Pickin’ organizers have called the Meramec River valley home at one point or another. It felt good to throw a festival in our “backyard.” We set up the stage in the shaded walnut grove, swam in the river and the lake, and jammed to music from our local favorites to the amazing duo of Del McCoury and David Grisman. Our hearts swelled as we listened to stories from our elders about when they saw Del and “The Dawg” back in their day, and saw the looks of wonder on the faces of the children who were seeing legendary bluegrass musicians for the first time. That first festival at Lost Hill Lake felt like home, and we never wanted to leave.

 

Over the years, Pickin’ On Picknic became more than just a music festival; it became a family reunion that bridged generations. Families gathered around campfires sharing stories and songs, while children danced barefoot in the grass, their laughter mingling with the sweet melodies in the air. This isn’t just a festival, it is a celebration of roots, community, and the enduring power of music.

As Pickin’ grew in popularity and acclaim, the passing years brought with them both triumphs and tribulations. Amidst the harmonious chords and joyful camaraderie, a bittersweet note lingered—a reminder of the fragility of life and the challenges faced by some members of the close-knit bluegrass community.

 

As we came together every summer to rejoice in the growth of our dream and our community, we also came together to grieve in the loss of friends and family to mental health struggles. In 2019, just weeks before he was scheduled to play his second Pickin’ Festival, the whole bluegrass community lost Jeff Austin, founding member of Jeff Austin Band and Yonder Mountain String Band. A group of his friends and peers gathered to play a memorial set in Jeff’s time slot. That collective outpouring of love and sorrow helped all of us heal. In 2021, we lost our dear friend Max Graham of Kind Country. Max had a beautiful family, an amazing career ahead of him and was a fountain of joy and exuberance on stage. Once again our community came together; reeling from shock and grief at the loss of someone that brought such joy to our lives but struggled so deeply in their own. 

 

In the intimate circles of musicians and festival goers, the passage of time revealed the stark reality of addiction and mental health struggles that touched the lives of beloved friends. The echoes of laughter and music were sometimes accompanied by the somber tunes of heartache, as the community faced the profound loss of friends who succumbed to the relentless grip of addiction or the silent battle of mental health turmoil.

 

As we approach Pickin’s tenth anniversary, the organizers have reflected on the incredible journey that began in 2015. What started as a small gathering of friends has blossomed into a nationally recognized bluegrass event, leaving an indelible mark on the community and beyond.

 

 A lot has changed over the years. As the time has passed, the Pickin’ team has grown in more ways than one. Many are now raising families, some have overcome their own tough challenges, and all of us are dedicated to being a force of good in our community. We strive to be the Midwest’s best family-friendly music festival, nurturing a positive, uplifting culture where we take good care of ourselves, each other, and the land we gather on. 

 

Pickin’ has become a symbol of the enduring power of music to unite, inspire, and create lasting memories. It is a testament to the vision and hard work of a group of friends who, fueled by passion and a love for bluegrass, have sown the seeds of a tradition that would continue to flourish for years to come.

 

As the names of friends and family struggling with and lost to addiction and suicide were whispered among the rustling leaves and the twangs of bluegrass melodies, we found ourselves grappling with the harsh truth that no journeys are free from shadows. Nearly every community has been affected by these heartaches, and it’s likely that we all know someone in our lives that has or is struggling. When we learned of the loss of musician Christopher Burke of Steamboat Revival just a few weeks after he had played in the band competition at Pickin’ 2023, we knew we had to do our best to address what is happening in our community.

 

In response to these heartaches and struggles Pickin’ On Picknic has decided to take on a new purpose: to be not just a celebration of music but also a platform for awareness and outreach. We are excited to evolve and have now officially become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization: Pickin’ Circle. 

 

In addition to producing our well-loved Pickin’ On Picknic event, workshops on mental health wellness, addiction recovery, and community support will be integrated into the festival schedule, fostering an environment where conversations about these sensitive topics can flourish. We are partnering with other organizations to help raise funds for those in the music industry that need help. We intend our festival to be a supportive environment, encouraging open dialogue, erasing the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and highlighting solutions and lifestyle changes that promote mental health wellness. We hope that our community will leave Pickin’ with great memories, solid connections and tools and knowledge to help them along the way. 

 

While the loss of friends and loved ones has become an integral part of our story, we hope stories of growth, healing and recovery take root and flourish as Pickin’ On Picknic continues to evolve. The festival is a living tribute to those who have left an indelible mark on the community and  a reminder that the power of bluegrass music can be a source of solace and healing for those grappling with life’s struggles.

 

We hope our Pickin’ community unites not only in revelry, but also in a shared commitment to taking good care of themselves and supporting each other through thick and thin. The bluegrass melodies, songs and laughter that resonate through the Lost Hill Lake walnut grove each year have become a collective anthem. It reminds us that despite the shadows that sometimes touch our community, the spirit of Pickin’ On Picknic endures as a beacon of resilience, hope and the enduring power of music to heal wounded hearts. We hope you’ll join us in the grove this year and for many years to come as we continue to write the story of Pickin’ together.

 

Love, 
The Pickin’ Family