Dillard Bluegrass Festival History


A little over twenty years ago, an idea was hatched to bring some good food and good music together as a way of drawing folks into Rabun County and specifically the city of Dillard. The result was the beginning of the Dillard Bluegrass and Barbeque Festival.

It has become one of the southeast’s finest festivals, featuring the best cooks and the best bands from all over the country. We’ve even had cooking teams from England, and a band from Sweden. It all happens the first weekend of August at the annual Dillard Bluegrass and Barbeque Benefit Festival.

For the past nineteen years we have included a barbeque competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, which was designated in 1999 as the Georgia State championship cook off by resolution of the Georgia State Legislature. Teams that have competed in Dillard garnered points that help them on their way to qualifying for the KCBS Nationals. While we will forgo the competition this year, we will have several championship barbeque vendors serving the best of their craft… what a great way of tasting some of the finest barbeque in the world. We will also have cooking classes on Friday and Saturday presented by one of the best championship barbeque chefs around, Byron Chism, as well as a talk on pairing wines with different dishes and meats. Several other food vendors will be selling their specialties, too.

We have had some of the top bands on our stage over the years and as we in our third decade, we have more great entertainers lined up including our featured bands, Kristy Cox and Big Country Bluegrass. Some familiar faces on stage include Oliver Rice, Curtis Blackwell, and the Foxfire Boys, three hometown bands that have been part of the festival for many years. We’ve had several other returning bands including Sons of the South, Jonah Riddle and Carolina Express.

We will have fun for everybody at the festival this year with arts and crafts vendors, delicious food choices, kid’s activities and much more. Almost everybody that comes likes our “small town feel” and many folks don’t know that we are a non-profit festival. We come together to have a good time, and while we are at it, we raise money for several local charities. Over the years, we have been able to donate well over $100,000. We couldn’t have done that without all the volunteer folks who come and help make it work, or the people who come through the gate to be with us. 

Thanks to all!
All proceeds benefit local charities.