Save the date for this year’s music festival

On May 22, there will be a music festival from noon to 7 p.m. at the Heritage Museum of Orange County. Not only will there be bluegrass, folk and Americana music, there will also be a great barbecue and a number of fun and meaningful family activities.

So put that date on your calendar, and make plans to attend. You will be glad you did!

Several years ago, I mentioned to my wife, Grace, that I would like some time to go to Kentucky or Tennessee to see a bluegrass festival. But once I became acquainted with the Heritage Museum of Orange County, I thought that it would be even more fun to have the bluegrass music come to us.

So that is what is going to happen. There will be three outstanding bluegrass and folk bands, and one big band. The first is comprised of Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin, Colorado musicians who are magicians on the fiddle, guitar and mandolin. They will perform a children’s concert at 1:15 p.m. and then one for us older types at 3:25 p.m. You can hear them as a warm-up to the festival at

The second will be the big band “A Wing and a Prayer” that will perform at 2:20 p.m. It is comprised of about 20 talented musicians who gather and perform for the sheer gratification of it. They will play some of your longtime big band favorites, such that when I heard them play I thought to myself on literally four different occasions: “Yes! That one is so good it will be their closing number!” They are amazing, and you will want to come to the festival if only to hear them!

The third scheduled group will be a five-piece, the Dennis Roger Reed Band, which uses a fiddle, guitar, mandolin, “other assorted stringed things,” and “exactly the right amount of percussion,” to get it highly touted and reviewed throughout the bluegrass world. Hear them at

Our closing band, “Folding Mr. Lincoln will perform at 5:45 p.m. This five-piece, led by a husband and wife, has been playing since 1973, and it shows. One reviewer told people to come and “experience the pure joy of musicians feeding off each other and the audience” as they perform their “sweet jingly pop, fiddle-driven folk music.” You can listen to a sampling of their music at

Tim DeCinces’ Beach Pit BBQ is scheduled to provide their famous tri-tip steaks and other wonderful barbequed fare. Picnic tables will be available, and there will also be a roped-off microbrewery and wine garden area, a traditional popcorn cart, and soft drinks, waters, juices and other food and drink for purchase.

And then there are the family activities. The Heritage Music Festival is planning to have wandering minstrel singers, live demonstrations at the museum’s blacksmith shop and in adobe brick-making, pony rides, drawing lessons for “young Rembrandts,” an area for storytellers, docent tours of the Kellogg House built in 1898, an exhibit about Orange County’s Native American tribes, and photographers who will take pictures of guests in early 1900s apparel. The Santa Ana Police Department has been kind enough to furnish two officers on horseback.

And one more thing! From 1 to 3 p.m. May 21, the day before the music festival, there will be a master’s class at Orange Coast College. This class will give an opportunity for some of our most talented high school and collegiate musicians, who will have won a county school district competition, to receive tips from Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin. Tickets will be available for the general public, but free admission will be awarded to all students who enter the competition.

So what better thing to do on a nice Saturday and Sunday afternoon in May? Parents, bring your children, and grandparents, bring your grandchildren, and everybody bring your friends! Tickets will be available through the Heritage Museum website,

Admission for children 10 and younger will be free, and suggested donations will be $10 for students and $20 for adults. (But the overall suggested donation for any family will be capped at $50, and no one will be turned away.)

There will also be VIP tickets with prime seating for the music performances, including a lunch with two drinks served at your private table for a $100 donation.

Or if you have a company that would like to sponsor a “family day” for its employees or clients, contact the museum.

But at the moment, just save the date on your calendar. The Heritage Museum of Orange County has about 12 acres at 3101 West Harvard St., Santa Ana, between the Mitchell Elementary School, where there is lots of free parking, and Godinez High School.

The museum plans to have this event every year, so plan to make it an annual family tradition!

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)