NORTH ADAMS -- Mass MoCA's FreshGrass will double in size and attendance when the bluegrass and roots music festival's third season kicks off Friday.
"This festival is growing. We expect 3,500 visitors to come to North Adams for FreshGrass this weekend," MoCA's Communications Director Jodi Joseph said Tuesday.
The three-day festival's roster includes 25 bands, three stages and a new municipal camping site called Fresh Ground. Also new this year is the FreshGrass Award, a new contest for amateur bands featuring $10,000 in cash prizes, recording studio time at Compass Records in Nashville and a chance to perform at FreshGrass in 2014.
"Our attendance keeps going up nicely We're convinced one of the reasons this is happening is through word-of-mouth from people who are attending our festivals and having a good time," MoCA Director Joseph Thompson said Thursday during the museum's annual preview of its upcoming fall season.
As a special treat, the Williamstown-based band The Wandering Rocks will kick off the festival on Friday, at 6:30 p.m.
"The Wandering Rocks are a local favorite. They are over-the-moon excited about performing and a little nervous, but they'll do well," he said, noting the festival's lineup includes more bands on its roster than June's Solid Sound Festival.
To accommodate the growing number of performances, the museum has added a new outdoor stage in Joe's Field, in addition to the traditional stages in Courtyard D and the Hunter Center.
"We found we had a lot of kids at the festival last year, so we're also adding a dedicated kids' tent, where Kidspace will be helping with kid-friendly programming," Thompson said.
The tent, which will be known as "FreshKids" will offer opportunities for music-making, family art projects, shade and snacks. In addition to kid-centric pop-up concerts with FreshGrass festival musicians, Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell will play a main stage show, "Woodstock for Kids," featuring songs from across American music genres that invoke an all-ages dance party.
Also on the weekend schedule is a series of instrument workshops presented through a partnership with Boston's Berklee School of Music's American Roots program. Workshop topics range from mandolin- and fiddle-playing to "From Africa to FreshGrass: A History of the Banjo" by Bill Evans and "Bluegrass Band Rhythm."
On Sunday, the FreshGrass Award semi-finalists will perform beginning at 11 a.m. Six bands, selected from a pool of 50 applicants, will each perform a traditional bluegrass piece and an original piece for the competition.
"We are thrilled and excited by the level of talent in the contest pool," FreshGrass producer Chris Wadsworth said in a release. "We wanted the FreshGrass Award to focus on original songwriting, from lyrics to composition, and I think we got exactly that."
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