BLUEGRASS JAMBOREE. The Bluegrass Jamboree was an annual bluegrass festival held each spring in Oakdale Park at Glen Rose, Texas. The event was organized by park owners Alton “Whimp” and Geneva “Pete” May in collaboration with Thurman Winnett in 1972. The Mays had purchased Oakdale Park on June 15, 1963, and restored the grounds, which included a large pool and cottages. Eventually, they also installed recreational vehicle hook-ups. The Mays, a musical family, agreed with the suggestion to host a bluegrass festival. A metal trailer served as the first stage in 1972, and the jamboree featured Earl Garner & The Bluegrass Mountaineers from Elkhart, Texas, and the Watkins Family from Shreveport, Louisiana. Other performers included the Double Mountain Boys of Lipan, Texas, and Debbie Bridgewater.
Over the years the Mays upgraded the event’s amenities including the construction of a covered stage for performers. The jamboree included both stage performances along with numerous jam sessions on the park grounds. The annual jamboree, along with regularly-scheduled bluegrass jam sessions, picnics, and reunions through the year, earned Oakdale Park the reputation as the bluegrass capital of Texas.
The jamboree has featured bluegrass artists from across the state, including the Double Mountain Boys, the Earls Brothers, Concho Grass, WST Bluegrass, Honey Creek Highway, Carroll Parham, Texas Trailblazers, as well as owner Whimp May and other local musicians. Traditional instrumentation includes guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and bass playing a variety of both new tunes and adaptations of traditional favorites such as “Red River Valley,” “Sioux City Sue,” and “Redwing.”
Whimp and Pete May, along with their son Scott and his wife Judy May, hosted thirty-six years of the jamboree until Oakdale Park was put up for sale. The final event, billed as “Oakdale Park’s Farewell Bluegrass Jamboree,” was held March 29–April 1, 2007, and featured a number of musicians and approximately a dozen bands—some of which had performed at the first jamboree. The city of Glen Rose purchased Oakdale Park in 2009 and made plans to renovate the premises and possibly resurrect the bluegrass festival. Scheduled events at the park included the Paluxy River Fall Bluegrass Festival in 2011 and the Paluxy River Spring Bluegrass Festival in 2012.
Cleburne Times–Review, April 14, 2007. Glen Rose Newspaper, March 22, 2007. Glen Rose Reporter , January 13, 2010. Alton “Whimp” May and Geneva “Pete” May, Conversation with author, July 10, 2010, Glen Rose, Texas. ”Oakdale Park—Headquarters for Family Fun,” brochure, Oakdale Park, Glen Rose, Texas.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Laurie E. Jasinski, "BLUEGRASS JAMBOREE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xfb02), accessed May 22, 2015. Uploaded on June 3, 2014. Modified on July 11, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.