We rolled in late. I stopped at the desk. An elderly man in overalls and a railroad hat is seated in a chair in the lobby. “Evening, Doc.”
“Good to see you, John. I trust you’ve had a good year.”
He stroked a long gray beard, turned his head to the side, and coughed. “Breathing but not bragging, Doc.”
“Been out to the music?”
“All day. Too cold at night for me anymore. My back freezes up. Down with old Arthur most of the winter.”
“”Hope it gets better.”
“It won’t, but what the hell.”
The desk clerk checks us in. “Your usual room, Doc. The one by the pool.”
Friday morning. We crest the last hill before the grounds. An American flag flaps in the breeze. Vendors of every brand of acoustic instruments have begun to set up shop. It’s early, but people from all over the world already mill around. There are T-shirts and hot dogs and sand castle artists and kids with their faces painted by some street artist for a couple bucks. If your idea of a rocking good time is a Board meeting with a bunch of rich guys in suits who hope to finagle another million from someone else who has more than they know what to do with, you don’t need to come here. You’d be bored to tears; this is too real.
I can smell the roasted peanuts. I think I’ll have a bag of those and a cup of black coffee. It makes a fine bluegrass breakfast. I might follow it up with the morning paper and a nap before the Gibson Brothers crank up.
It’s Merlefest, the only event I look forward to as much as the Harvey County Fair. I’ll eat all the wrong food, I’ll stay up half the night and sleep in between sets. I’ll sleep with one eye open, though. I ain’t gonna miss a thing.
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