12th Annual DelFest, A Musical Family

Published on May 9, 2019

DelFest is a family-friendly music festival that celebrates the rich legacy of Bluegrass musician Del McCoury Music while still creating a forum for world-class musical collaborations and showcase new talent with a down-home feeling.

DelFest begins on Thursday, May 23 and ends on Sunday, May 26.

DelFest is held at the beautiful Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, Maryland just two and half hours from Baltimore and Washington DC. DelFest sits just along the Potomac River in the scenic Appalachian Mountains.

During this four-day festival, volunteers pour beer, deliver ice, and put together a raffle to raise funds for local charities.

Featured Artists

  • The Del McCoury Band
  • The Travelin’ McCourys
  • The String Cheese Incident
  • Trampled By Turtles
  • Tyler Childers
  • Railroad Earth
  • Sam Bush
  • I’m With Her feat. Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan
  • Yonder Mountain String Band
  • And many more

Community Work

To date the organization is close to $600,000, of donated funds that support projects of non-profit organizations that lead to the betterment of people’s lives in Allegany County. The foundation is heavily invested in taking an active role for positive change in the community.

Throughout the year members of the McCoury family visit non-profits in Allegany County that receive grants to learn more about their day-to-day needs. Del and The Travelin McCourys have even made a trip to Cumberland to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity.

Family Friendly Festival

Unlike many festivals, DelFest can truly say that it is family friendly. There is an area reserved for those that like the quiet nights, referred to as Green Acres.

The setting is unlike any other with the West Virginia mountain as a beautiful backdrop and the Potomac River running alongside the venue.

Campers can choose a wooded area along the river as well.

What to do?

Many attendees will be seen floating down the river in their inner tubes, this year will also include kayaks that will be available to rents with some guided tours.

This area is known for its outstanding bike trails, Cumberland the C&O canal trail goes all the way to Washington D.C and meets the Great Allegheny Passage offering 330 miles of biking or hiking.

Downtown Cumberland is an architectural treasure with a pedestrian mall and multiple options for outside dining.

The old town charm of Cumberland and Frostburg will have you step back in time to a much slower and friendly lifestyle.

Grit Daily spoke with Chris Harris, who works on the festival staff about the festival:

Grit Daily: What inspired DelFest to come together? You say it’s family friendly, spill the beans.

Chris Harris: Del has played Bluegrass festivals since the mid-60s.  He’s always wanted to have his own festival, and we wanted to help him fulfill that dream and create something that could celebrate Del.  The McCourys have so many musical relationships across different genres, we knew there wouldn’t be another festival that could create such a diverse lineup and make it all feel like it’s related.
If you know the McCourys at all, you know nothing is more important to them than family.  Having Ronnie and Rob on the road with Del, plus Momma Jean selling merchandise makes all of their shows a family affair, so creating a family friendly environment was definitely a priority for the creation of DelFest. The Kids Zone and Kids’ Parade are always highlights.  All of the grand-kids have grown up at the festival, and have made lifelong friends that they reconnect with every year.
GD: What about it, in lieu of these other festivals sets it apart, as there are a number of festivals that donate to charities.
CH: Donating to charities is not an attempt to set DelFest apart.  Western Maryland is a place with real needs, and the McCourys and High Sierra have always been happy to donate.  What is unique is how the money is raised.  DelFest has planted deep roots in the community and the fundraising is a community effort.  Many volunteers provide a service to DelFest selling raffle tickets, pouring beer, etc., to raise the funds that they can then go present where it’s needed in their town. It really is the glue that holds everything together.
What sets DelFest apart is the music and the people.  As mentioned above, it’s almost impossible to throw a similar festival to this, as Del is the glue that allows for a lineup that could include a country artist like Dierks Bentley, a huge rock star like Trey Anastasio, and a traditional bluegrass artist like Larry Sparks, all on the same weekend.  All sharing the same stage, and more importantly, all collaborating with the Del McCoury Band.
GD: How does something like DelFest bring positivity back to the space, especially after the Fyre Festival scandal?
Fyre Festival was a complete fabrication based on portraying an image.  Nothing about it was real. The people were drawn in because they thought it was the place to go and be seen.  DelFest is the exact opposite, it’s real.  It’s not about looking good on Instagram (though it does), it’s about real people, real music, and real experiences.  Our fans don’t need private jets and cabanas to think they’ve made it, they are having equal fun no matter if they are camping in a pup tent for four days or are in an expensive RV.  Once they reach the front of the stage, they are all swaying to the same music and enjoying real music.

A Magical Place

Going to DelFest offers something very magical, you’re able to step into a world where everyone is truly family. The jam sessions on stage surrounded by the river and mountains are unique.

Watching Del ride through the campgrounds to make sure that everyone is having a great time is something to be seen.

When you got to the merchandise tent you’ll most likely be helped by Del’s wide, Jean or their daughter Rhonda, or possibly any one of the grandchildren.


Taylor Lee is a former Sports Editor at Grit Daily. With over ten years of experience in the business realm including an MBA from Grand Canyon University, Taylor focuses his writing in the fields of sports, music, and business. His other interest include being outdoors, cigars, and fine bourbons.

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