It’s been a long time coming but a Boone County native is seeing one of his dreams come true during the 23rd Annual Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Morehead, KY September 11-19, 2015.
Ray Wheatley, a 1999 Scott High School graduate will be playing on the main stage Tuesday, September 15, 2015 with his band, Ray Wheatley and Changing Times.
Wheatley has performed on the showcase stage (for up and coming bands) many times in years past and played on the Main stage as a fill in for several other bands but this will be the first time he has performed on his own with his band. Audiences can expect to hear bluegrass music played from the older days of The Stanley Brothers and Flatt and Scruggs music as well as some of the newer styles of today’s bluegrass. “I’m playing the good stuff,” Wheatley said.
The 1000 acre Poppy Mountain campground is about 140 miles from Boone County in Morehead, KY off 60 Highway East. It contains water/electric hookups for more than 1000 campsites and plenty of areas for primitive camping and three shower houses.
Festival goers will want to take their ATV or golf cart because there are more than 20 miles of trails throughout the campgrounds. At the entrance to the festival you can rent golf carts by the day or for the entire week if you don’t have one of your own.
When Wheatley takes the stage Tuesday night just before 10pm, he will be greeted by several family members in the audience who are traveling from Madison, Chapmanville and Johnstown, Oh where he now makes his home. Wheatley first began playing bluegrass music when he was just a teenager in the late 90’s. He traveled to the Poppy Mountain Bluegrass festival with his father, Virgil Wheatley of Chapmanville and was discovered by a Bluegrass band from Missouri. He moved that same year to Missouri and became the lead guitar player and lead singer of the band, Silver Cloud Tradition. Since then, Wheatley has formed his own bands in Boone County and now Johnstown, OH.
“It is such an honor to play on the main stage at Poppy where such greats as Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs and so many others have played,” Wheatley said. This year will play host to more great musicians such as Tracy Lawrence, John Anderson, Sundy Best, Shenandoah Reloaded, James King, Marty Raybon and a host of many talented acts. “My band and I are just one of many talented groups that will be entertaining people from all over the place who come to this awesome festival.” “I’m counting down the days until Poppy, just like I do every year. It’s a great time and this year I get to play the music I love on the main stage,” Wheatley said.
In addition to music from noon to Midnight every day, the festival will have trolley trains running through the campgrounds and giving free rides to anyone who wants to hop on. There are antique cars all over the grounds and a big variety of other antiques hanging in the barn behind the stage. Vendors will be set up selling food and drinks, clothing, music equipment, jewelry and more. The general store area makes for a great place to snap selfies and one cannot discount all the ATV riding that goes on all week.
If you really want to get in on the fun, pay attention to pranks that individual campers play out with others. You might see campsites tee peed with toilet paper, water balloon fights with three man slingshots, campsite decorating and something is guaranteed to happen that you’ve never seen before. To round out the festival, there is a campground parade on Saturday the 19th.
“I’ve been going to this festival with my dad since I was 15 years old and now I’m booked as part of the entertainment. It’s hard to believe. It means a lot to me. I grew up in Boone County and I still call it home. It will always be home and it would be great to look out in the audience and see a bunch of my old friends from Boone County when I’m up on that stage,” Wheatley said.
“If you miss my show on Tuesday night at 9:55pm, find me on Jammin Ridge and I’ll be playing music late every night of the festival,” Wheatley said.
For more information on the Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival and to purchase tickets to the Ray Wheatley and Changing Times show go to www.poppymountainbluegrass.com
Lisa A. Green is a contributing writer. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org