By Charlotte Underwood 

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Campbell Culture Coalition (C3) Executive Director Manuel Mesa guest spoke at the South Campbell County Rotary Club luncheon on Tuesday at the LaFollette Methodist Church. 

Mesa spoke about Saturday’s upcoming Louie Bluie Festival which runs from 10am to 6 pm at Cove Lake State Park. It is the 16th annual festival and will be a “full day of live music and Appalachian Art.” Admission is free. 

Manuel Mesa invites you to come out to the Louie Bluie Festival at Cove Lake State Park from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday. For more information, visit HERE.

“We have three stages and a great lineup of music this year. It is the largest event in the county, we draw great crowds, we have diverse music, a huge quilt show and a lot of new and exciting things. Every year it grows and gets better,” Mesa said.

Mesa spoke about other community projects sponsored by the C3, including the nearly 40 art and culture programs in area schools. 

One of these programs is about to take place the Friday before the festival and is a “highlight” for Mesa. 

“The Friday before the festival we take one of the festival headliners up to some of the schools to play for the kids. This year, headliner Ralphe Armstrong, Howard’s son, will be going to Wynn Elementary School and to Jellico High School. These kids are going to get top notch entertainment,” Mesa said.

He also spoke briefly about the local economic impact of the Louie Bluie Festival for the county. 

“Local hotel rooms get sold out, and it’s a win for the county. We bring people in from surrounding areas; we have been recognized for many years as the number one rural event in the state of Tennessee according to the Tennessee Arts Commission. It’s not just an economic impact that it brings to the community; it brings good will and good cheer. People go away saying how beautiful and what hospitality there is in Campbell County,” Mesa said.

He covered some of the history on how the festival was named after Howard Louie Bluie Armstrong, a nationally renowned string band musician from LaFollette.  Armstrong performed throughout the whole world, including at two World’s Fairs. He played all different kinds of music to appeal to a broader audience, spoke and sang in multiple languages, and was an artist and a writer as well. He came from a poverty stricken background which he overcame to achieve his dreams, according to Mesa.

“He became internationally recognized. If a guy like that can go out and achieve his dream, the sky’s the limit.  That’s what I tell these kids when we present at the schools and teach about Howard’s legacy,” Mesa said. 

He invited everyone to come out to the Louie Bluie Festival at Cove Lake State Park from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday. For more information, visit HERE.

Sounds Like Home Stage

10:30   Sunshine Ambassadors

11:00   East Tennessee Demijohns

12:00   Tribute to WLAF Radio and the Tennessee Jamboree

1:00    Tribute to LaFollette Old Time Fiddlers

2:00    New Market Trainwrecks

3:00    Armstrong Legacy Trio

4:00    Four Leaf Peat

Louie Bluie Stage

11:15     Shayla McDaniel

12:15     Rica Chicha

1:15      John Reynolds and Ray Kamalay

2:15      Storytelling Hour with Kelle Jolly and Friends

3:15      Fudd Light with the Genetically Altered Jug Band

4:15      Margherita Fava

5:15      Aretha Franklin Tribute featuring Ralphe Armstrong and Jeanine Fuller & the True Funk Souldiers

Rickard Ridge Restaurant Stage

12:30 – 1:30 – Rickard Ridge Pickers

2:00 – 3.00 – Tennessee Brushfire

3:30 – 4:30 – Southern Grace

5:00 – 6:00 – Shadow Ridge

Louie Bluie Gates open at 10:00 a.m. Festivities wind down at 6:00 p.m.

Admission is free. Parking is free. The staff works diligently to accommodate visitors with disabilities and their families. Ask anyone wearing a “STAFF” tee if you need assistance. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 09/268/2023-6AM)