Aiken's Bluegrass Festival brings the hits -- and an economic boost -- to the community

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Friday, May 10, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) – The Aiken Bluegrass Festival is celebrating their 15th year this year, and the event is bigger than ever.

Aside from the main attraction -- the music -- there are vendors all throughout thegrounds from home and far away.

Julie Stein and her family are regular campers at the festival.

"I know it looks like we live here, but we just set this up for the weekend,” Stein said.

Stein’s whole family plays music, so they always meet amateur musicians.

"People who play can come in, bring their instruments, sit down, and play,” Stein said. “We've had picking and playing here till 4 a.m."

She says the best part of this festival is its down-home nature.

"Everybody is family,” Stein said. “We meet new people year after year."

Festival director Christian Schaumann and his father-in-law started the event 15 years ago.

"The way the festival started, it was a dinner party for me and my family,” Schaumann said.

And the event has grown, too, which is good for Aiken.

“The amount of people camping, every grocery store here is just slapped full of people. Every hotel room in Aiken is basically sold out,” Schaumann said.

They also bring in vendors from all over, including food trucks. Schaumann says they have several local vendors, but he also likes bringing in vendors from out of town. He says once folks who aren't from around the area see what they have to offer, come back, and benefit us locally just the same.

"The've been patronizing all of downtown,” Schaumann said.

And it's not just the locals who come to hear the music.

"We've got people that have driven all the way from Colorado, California, Michigan, Texas, [and] Tennessee,” Schaumann said.

Their lineup includes Grammy award-winning artists. They have two main stages and an entire warehouse beer hall and all of them will be hopping.

"We're expecting close to 4,000 people per day,” Schaumann said.

And all the money they make goes straight back into Aiken.

"Our goal is to donate the money, and make the festival even bigger,” Schaumann said.

A portion of the festival money goes to the local therapeutic horseback riding foundation. The other part helps pay for next year to make it bigger than the last.

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