A senior gathering

Published 10:33 am Sunday, March 3, 2024

It doesn’t take a lot to draw a crowd of senior citizens. I realized that again this past weekend. The Bluegrass Festival that Othel and I attended wasn’t held in a temperature-controlled, cushion-seating auditorium or amphitheater. This festival was held on a grass-covered expanse of sloping land in Florida. The sprawling pasture had standing receptacles for electricity and water that were “planted” in rows for all the recreational vehicles that assembled.

A quick survey of the audience identified the attendees as senior citizens. The company of mostly gray heads were dressed in layers, and a good portion of the music fans depended on walkers or electric scooters to get them to their portable, folded chairs. A large pavilion with concrete floor and roof was our theater, and the stage was a portable traveling set, built high enough to give the audience visual access to the entertainers.

The organizers hadn’t skimped on the sound system. That was key for this audience of impaired hearing, and the lineup of entertainers gave the bluegrass lovers their money’s worth. All ages filled the stage for the event. There was a 20-year-old fiddle player, a 21-year-old bass strummer and an 80-year-old vocalist that sang the color off the notes! A variety of every age fell between the other musicians.

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Everyone that we spoke to, as well as each performing group, commented on the Florida weather. Two groups had traveled from New York and Michigan, anticipating the mild Florida temperatures. Instead they reached for vests and jackets to help ward off the gale-like, cold winds that loved racing across that pasture.

The evening performances called for blankets, quilts, fleece and toboggans. Even with the cold, the music lovers flocked and “scooted” to the night entertainment. A lot of the audience brought their hot drinks in their Yeti cups. I wished for an electric blanket with a long cord.

As I studied the crowd around us and the steady stream of latecomers, I sensed a bit of nostalgia. The conditions weren’t optimum, but the fans appreciated the “old” music and lyrics. This festival had invited a variety of music types — all reflecting back to younger days and youthful bodies.

There were those that gathered with old, traveling friends, enjoying this time to reconnect. Othel asked our neighbor camper where they were from. He said, “About 10 minutes down the road.” There was something about being in the company of like-minded people, enjoying music among old friends that drew this large group together.

Even though a Medicare banner would have accurately labeled this gathering, they earned an A for effort. A lot fumbled with their iPhones like children with complex toys, but they were deliberate in attempting to remain a part of the modern times.

One of the acts requested a sing-along to “Amazing Grace.” Large screens or word sheets weren’t necessary. The frosty night pasture turned into a theater of praise. This group of “seniors” had been blessed with foundational pasts.

Letters to Camille Anding may be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.