May 5th, 5:16pm
Last night we were lured from our fire at our campsite by the sound of the most beautiful bluegrass music coming from the RV section of the campground – the section we usually try to avoid to escape the sound of buzzing generators and the tease of warmer, dryer spaces on cold and wet evenings. Many of these RV campsites are decked out in lawn ornaments, family stones and all the types of gear you could imagine to bring the comforts of home outside.
Watching from the road at first, we were grinning ear to ear at the beauty of the musicians and folks singing old bluegrass songs together. We were warmly invited to join and watch by the group of elderly women who were singing one last song before heading out when we first arrived. “We’re all friends here!” she enthusiastically remarked.
We spoke to a couple who happened upon this group while on a camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains 20 years ago – exactly the way we did – and who travel back each year from Florida for the occasion. They told us that this group of friends and family meet this time every year – the week leading up to the first Saturday in May – and play every night on each other’s campsites, leading up to a day-long celebration and performance on Saturday at the Cades Cove Campground pavilion.
We feel so lucky to have stumbled upon them and to experience this magical gathering each night for the next few days!