Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Bill Grant Bluegrass Festival

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Bill Grant at his music festival
(2012.201.B0227.0035, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


The Bill Grant Bluegrass Festival began at Hugo in August 1969 and attracted an audience of more than twelve hundred to this southeastern Oklahoma town. At the beginning of the twenty-first century between twelve thousand and twenty thousand music lovers from all over the United States annually attended the five-day event. The festival's popularity often leads visitors to arrive months and weeks ahead in anticipation of large crowds.

Started by Hugo native Bill Grant (1930– ), with the first festival featuring Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, the event is held every summer in Hugo's Salt Creek Park and is known as the oldest festival of its kind west of the Mississippi River. At this lively affair bluegrass tunes can be heard from professional and amateur musicians alike, playing guitars, mandolins, banjos, harmonicas, and fiddles around the clock.

Known for playing the mandolin as well as for hundreds of musical compositions, Bill Grant has performed with singing partner Delia Bell (1938– ), a Bonham, Texas, native who relocated to Hugo as a child, since the beginning of their professional relationship in 1959. Among the first promoters of an American Bluegrass music festival, the duo have been inducted into the National Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and annually perform at Hugo. The festival's events have been documented by National Geographic photographers and Japanese publications.

Gregory D. Zornes


Richard Carlin, Country Music: A Biographical Dictionary (New York: Routledge, 2003).

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 15 August 1983, 7 August 1994, 1 August 1995, 9 August 1997, and 5 August 2003.

"Hugo Bluegrass Festival a 30-Year Tradition," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 30 July 1999.

Hugo (Oklahoma) Daily News, 11 August 1969 and 28 March 2003.

Browse By Topic





The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Gregory D. Zornes, “Bill Grant Bluegrass Festival,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=BI007.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.