Dancing at music fest

Deb Van Engelenhoven/The Herald

Couples dance as band Highway 30 performed country music songs perfect for dancing to.

OSKALOOSA — Jerry Virden has been promoting the Old Time Music Festival for the last ten years but the event has been happening for the past 36 years.

Virden took over the event after the previous promoter retired. The event was moved to the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds from Knoxville Park two years ago.

“We moved the festival from outside in the park to these buildings so that weather wouldn’t interfere with the festival,” said Virden. “The rain and heat would kill the festival. The Southern Iowa Fairgrounds offered many other amenities also like 130 campsites.”

The festival featured primarily country, bluegrass and gospel with a little old time rock and roll. There were scheduled performances in the 4-H Exhibit Hall building where a stage had been set up, but jam sessions were located all over the campgrounds.

Virden is part of a country band called Lonesome Fugitive which has been together for 26 years and tours across the Midwest performing in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.

“The event is better than last year,” said Virden. “Some people didn’t like the change at first but found that the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds would allow their golf carts, scooters and buggies so they love it. There are really great people here at the Fairgrounds to work with.”

The groups signed up and drew time slots for when they performed on the stage. There was plenty of opportunities to dance to the bands as well.

“Wherever there is country music, there is dancing,” said local resident Chet Mathis.

Virden is from Des Moines where he owns a music store.