A Smokin' Good Time
Ron Kodish likes to say that Smoked Country Jam, the music festival he and his wife, Teresa, started in 2004, includes “all branches of the bluegrass tree.” And, he adds, paraphrasing a famous line from a famous song, it is a “peaceful, easy feeling festival,” a time and place you can “forget about what else is going on in your life for three days.”
“We try to make everyone feel like they’re the most important person there,” Ron continues. “I’ve done my best to get the word out. It’s been a slow growth, but we’re happy where we are.”
Where they are is annual attendance about ten times what is was when they started, with folks coming from as far away as Hawaii and Iceland (!) to enjoy three days of music in the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Ron explains that the impetus for Smoked Country Jam came after Teresa’s diagnosis of systemic lupus in 2002. Lupus is an autoimmune disease for which there is presently no cure. Symptoms vary from individual to individual, and range from mild discomfort to chronic fatigue, joint pain and swelling, and organ damage. The couple wanted to raise awareness about the disease, raise money for the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania, and, well, have some fun. Their son plays bluegrass music, they’d been to Wellsboro’s Hickory Fest and got some inspiration (“It was the first festival we went to,” says Ron. “We’re appreciative that they’ve shared lots of ideas.”), and, so, “we thought we’d do it.”
“It’s been a labor of love,” he notes.
They started at a site in McElhattan, moved to Loganton in southern Clinton County, and ended up in 2011 at Quiet Oaks Campground in Cross Fork, where they’ve been ever since.
“There’s no reason we ever want to leave,” Ron says, and, honestly, many folks who come to Smoked Country Jam seem to feel the same way. People leave with a smile, he continues, but they don’t want to leave, and “they’re sad when it’s over.”
The 2019 festival gets underway Thursday, June 20, at 4 p.m., although there is an open mic session on Wednesday evening, June 19, for early arrivals. Music continues through midnight-ish on Saturday, June 22, on two different stages. There are programs and activities for kids, a “beautiful vendor midway” with food, crafts, and other merchandise, bluegrass workshops, and “a lot of camaraderie.” Open field camping is included with the full ticket price, which is seventy dollars for the three days if purchased by June 19. Single day tickets are also available. Music fans under age twelve get in free.
There are over twenty performers scheduled so far, including the Hillbilly Gypsies, Van Wagner, Well Strung, Mama Corn, Fireside Collective, and Cold Chocolate.
For online ticket purchase go to purplepass.com. For more information about Smoked Country Jam, visit smokedcountryjam.com, and be sure to check out the opportunities for volunteering. Find RV and cabin rental information at quietoaks.org or call (570) 923-2386.