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The right place at the right time

It all started in 2005 when Christopher Howard-Williams, a Bluegrass musician living in La Roche sur Foron, went to see the Mayor to ask if he would like to host a Bluegrass festival in the town. "Why not?" said the Mayor. "What's Bluegrass?"

Christopher pulled together a small team with Didier Philippe, head of the tourist office, who was actually looking to create an event in the town during the summer holiday period. The Mayor gave them one order: "Make it work!"

Christopher was the only one on the team who knew anything about Bluegrass, a musical style that was to become so important for this small, market in the heart of Haute Savoie, not far from Geneva. He taught them about its history, its influences and its particular culture.

Nobody, not even Christopher, really knew what the festival would look like but they soon decided to go big and to go free! For a music so little known free entry seemed like the best way to encourage the general public to come and see with little personal risk. The team therefore looked to other areas of revenue stream, notably the food and drinks bars, which would be manned by the already active network of volunteers involved in other community events in La Roche, and public and private sponsorship.

The festival took off and the La Roche sur Foron fell under the spell of the music and the musicians. It was mutual and soon the festival grew to become one of the most important events in the Bluegrass calendar outside the USA. It was nominated for "Event of the Year" at the prestigious IBMA Awards in Nashville in 2012. It was nominated again in 2015 and in 2016..

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Festival History

2016 For the first time in 11 editions we had to cancel one whole evening because of the weather. A big storm came through on Thursday forcing us to evacuate the entire site. Fortunately the weather improved and the following three days were as close to perfect as you can get. Front Country from California headlined alongside the power act Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley. Rapidgrass from Colorado ran the workshop and performed a couple of great sets. The Lunchtime sessions came into their own as crowds gathered to see Front Country and Rapidgrass share the stage with 4 up and coming European bands. Rawhide (Bel) headlined for Europe. G-runs'n Roses (Cz) won the contest with Kentucky Cow Tippers (GB) second and East West (Cz) 3rd. Check out the slideshow

2015 A special year for us to mark our 10th festival. There was no contest but all 9 previous contest winners came back to play as well as some of our "Committee's Choice" bands. Other friends came back from the USA with Hickory Project once again leading the workshop. Kim Fox brought brother Joel and sister Erin over to play with Dale Ann Bradley and Phil Leadbetter. Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen gave an electrifying performance and we invited Lonesome River Band to headline for us.
Friday July 31st was a "BLUE MOON" (second full moon of the month) so we celebrated it well with special tee shirts and all bands singing Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of ... erm ... La Roche!
Check out the slideshow

2014 We were so excited to welcome top US band Blue Highway for their first visit to France as part of their 20th anniversary celebrations - and they didn't disappoint the hardy souls who stayed through the rain to watch. Hickory Project put on their Grateful Dead set under the band name Garcia Grass and we welcomed our first Australian Kristy Cox. The Jumber Cables (CZE) won the contest with Dunderhead (SWE) second and Springfield (FRA) third - our first French band to make the podium. Special mention for Ireland's Rackhouse Pilfer who rocked us out on Friday evening Slideshow

Click here to see a historical review of all festivals

Contest Winners

2016 1) G-runs'n Roses (CZE), 2) Kentucky Cow Tippers (GBR), 3) East West (CZE)

2015 No contest for 10th festival

2014 1) The Jumper Cables (Cz), 2)Dunderhead (S), 3)Springfield (F)

2013: 1) East West (Cz/Sk), 2) Handl (Cz), 3) 0039 (I)

2012:1) Sons of Navarone (B), 2) Lazy Tater (NL), 3) Candy Floss (Sk)

2011: 1) Blackjack (Cz), 2) Blueland (Sk), 3) Lazy Tater (NL)

2010: 1) G-runs 'n Roses (Cz), 2) Blackjack (Cz), 3) Dessert (Cz)

2009: 1) Kreni (Cz), 2) New Essex Bluegrass Band (GB) 3) Sunny Side (Cz)

2008: 1) Monogram (Cz), 2) Toy Hearts (GB) 3) Wyrton (Cz)

2007: 1) Kralik's Rowdy Rascals (Cz), 2) Country Saloon (R), 3) G-runs 'n Roses (Cz)

2006: 1) Bluegrass Stuff (I), 2) Country Saloon (R), 3) Bluegrass Comeback (Cz)

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