August 25, 2015

10 bands are set for Hatterasity,
a bluegrass block party, on Oct. 8-11

For die-hard bluegrass fans, the festival season can’t arrive soon enough or last long enough.  And each festival, from the smallest one-day concert to the three- and four-day tent cities like Grey Fox and Bean Blossom, has something unique about it that induces what bluegrass fans called the “perpetual grin.” 

On Oct. 8-11, 10 bands will descend on Hatteras Island for the second annual Hatterasity Bluegrass Block Party.  A portion of all proceeds will be donated to the Hatteras Village Medical Center, a non-profit center that serves the island's residents and visitors.

“Hatterasity came about because I happened to build a house 50 yards from the Civic Center in Hatteras Village, and I thought it would be a cool spot to have a festival,"  event coordinator Pete Pappalardo explained.

"Where else can you listen to bluegrass and roots music, eat great food and in three minutes be on the beach?  I’ve been organizing and running festivals and concerts for most of my life, and one of the most important things these days is finding a spot on the calendar where there isn’t already a festival going on someplace,” Pappalardo said.

The fact that the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival takes place the last weekend in September and is followed immediately by the IBMA Awards in Raleigh made Columbus Day weekend a natural pick for Hatteras, Pappalardo explained.

“Lots of people plan their vacations around festivals, and there are plenty of snow-birds who make their way down the East Coast on their way to Florida, where bluegrass thrives in the winter months,” Pappalardo said.  “So this is a perfect way to get almost three weeks of great bluegrass music in a very concentrated area.”

Last year’s inaugural festival was well received by locals on Hatteras Island and the visitors and bands who came to play, and sponsors were generous in providing financial support and housing for the visiting bands.  The festival raised more than $2,000 for the Cape Hatteras Methodist Men, a  group that is vitally important in providing a food pantry and disaster relief when it is needed.

Rosa-Alice Mayo, one of the volunteer coordinators for the festival, is pleased the festival is returning.

“For someone who didn’t know much about bluegrass, I love it now,” she said. “They’re happy people, and it’s just an awesome way for people to get together.  There was lots of love in that room last year, especially among the musicians.  I love the way the musicians just go up there and join in whether they are in the group or not.  For us, summer is winding down and you’re looking for something to do, and there is lots of interest this year about it.”

This year’s festival has grown in some significant ways.   Danny Couch, a local Hatteraser, loves to share the stories and history of the island, and he will be running a shuttle during the festival around the villages of Frisco and Hatteras, so people camping at any of the several campgrounds will be able to come and go without having to drive. The $5 riding fee is good all day for unlimited rides to and fro.

One fixture in most festivals is the lawn chairs, which people set up in front of the stage, and which are usually left for the duration of the festival.  Sharing empty seats is an odd and charming custom among bluegrass fans, who have earned the reputation of being tidy, respectful and eager to share whatever they have.  The bluegrass rule is: “If your seat is in a seat, it’s your seat, unless the person who owns the seat shows up!”  Chairs will be available at the festival site as well, but festival-goers are welcome to bring their own.

Both music and vendors will be set up outside, and, in case of inclement weather, the music will be moved inside. Food will be provided by The Hatterasman Drive-In and non-profit organizations are invited to set up tables at no cost.

“We’re so excited to have Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen with us this year," Pappalardo said.  This group won the IBMA instrumental group of the year award last year, and they are nominated again this year.  Molasses Creek will be back, and this year we also have Hickory Project and a kid’s academy where kids can learn more about playing and singing bluegrass and will get to play on stage on Sunday with Lynda Dawson and Pattie Hopkins, who hail from Raleigh.”

Although it is billed as a bluegrass block party, there will be plenty of roots and folk-based music mixed into the weekend as well, with groups like Molasses Creek and Hickory Project performing folk songs and Celtic fiddle and pipe tunes. 

Tickets for the four-day event are $60 and are available at the door, and day passes range from $10.00 to $25.00.  Children under 12 are free, and there is a half-price student discount on all tickets.  There are a limited number of Kid’s Academy slots available at $50. Registration for the kid’s program is Friday afternoon until 5:45 and Saturday before 10 a.m., and reservations are strongly recommended.

There are still vendors' spots available by the day or weekend, $25 per day or $50 for the weekend for a 10-by-10 space, and business ads in the program will be accepted until Sept. 1.  For further information and a schedule, call 570-856-2545 or visit

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