State Senator Mike Morgan was in Guthrie Friday afternoon, October 3, to present three-time national champion fiddler Byron Berline with a Citation of Appreciation on behalf of the State Senate honoring the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival.
“Bluegrass is truly American music and our state has many, many talented bluegrass musicians. This festival brings them together along with musicians from around the world for thousands of fans to enjoy—and it helps provide college scholarships for young musicians,” said Morgan, D-Stillwater.
This year’s festival includes performances by musicians from Oklahoma and across the U.S., as well as Australia, Italy, Japan, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. Among the headliners performing at the festival is bluegrass banjo legend Earl Scruggs.
Senator Morgan has more than a casual interest in the music—when he was a child his father went to a local pawn shop and bought Morgan a banjo.
“I’m a bit rusty, but I still have that banjo. I had a lot of fun playing with friends when I was younger. It makes me appreciate people who are really blessed with a lot of talent,” said Morgan.
Last year, the festival drew about 15,000 national and international tourists to Oklahoma. Organizers were expecting even more at the 2003 event.
Founder Byron Berline pointed out that not only does the event help raise awareness of America’s music roots, but it also helps provide a college education for many young people.
“Last year, we awarded 17 students music scholarships that amounted to more than $10,000, with most going to Oklahoma young people. The scholarships are funded through the festival’s proceeds. The more people who come to enjoy the music, the more young people we can help give an opportunity to attend college,” explained Berline.
“I think the scholarship program is just fantastic. That’s just one more tool for helping our young people achieve their dreams. I’m excited to help celebrate this event, which helps brings so much positive attention to the historic community of Guthrie, our great state, and the many talented artists we have here,” said Morgan.