ITHACA, N.Y.—The Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance is back. This year is the festival’s 30th year anniversary and will feature live music from more than 75 bands and artists throughout the weekend, drawing thousands to the Trumansburg Fairgrounds and surrounding areas. With loosened COVID-19 restrictions, this year also marks the festival’s return to its full size.

The GrassRoots Festival will be held from July 21–24 in Trumansburg and is being preceded by its annual Culture Camp from July 17–20. The festival features performances from local and nonlocal artists, a variety of food and craft vendors, and a special exhibit for its 30th year anniversary. Additionally, GrassRoots will proceed with no social distancing, vaccine or mask requirements.

Russ Friedell, marketing director of GrassRoots, said the festival has grown to incorporate and center its attendees more, giving performers and audience members the chance to connect. During the festival’s fifth annual Culture Camp, which leads into the festival, artists who are set to perform will host a variety of workshops for festival-goers to attend.

“Workshops led by the performers range on everything from an introduction to banjo playing to the art of old-time guitar to introduction to accordion, and everything in between,” Friedell said. “So folks who attend Culture Camp get to have this really intimate, really cool upfront experience with artists who in some cases could be their musical idol.” 

GrassRoots fans who attend the entire week of events often camp at the Across The Way Campgrounds before and during the festival, but recent discussion in Ulysses around changing special event permits threatened that tradition. Though the result of the proposal is unresolved, Friedell has confirmed that attendees will be able to camp out per usual as the proposal did not go through. 

Friedell said he can feel the anticipation for the festival throughout the community and that everyone from attendees to the crew in charge of organizing the festival is excited for the events. Excitement is particularly high this year as most consider this the first “real” Grassroots since the COVID-19 pandemic began in spring 2020. 

“It seems like the energy is palpable,” Friedell said. “It’s really wild, but I have been feeling it everywhere I go in town lately. It seems like everyone is very, very excited. Tickets are moving, the bands are excited, and the site is up and looking beautiful. We just had our last crew chiefs meeting with the people who oversee various departments within the festival and everyone’s feeling really good.”