Author Archives: Strawberry Music Festival


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Today is the day that Strawberry’s Fall Festival would normally begin. With the heat, smoke, fire evacuations, and forest closures, on top of the COVID-19 surge that is taking place right now, it is hard to imagine holding our outdoor gathering/celebration, at this time. And yet, there is a gathering of the Strawberry spirit already underway. Many of you are sharing photos and stories of Strawberry past and others are making plans to gather in smaller pods and for backyard jams. All the while, our collective heart holds space for those who are currently being affected by wildfire burning across the state and region.

We also wanted to let you know that the Strawberry office will reopen on a part-time basis in October. At that time notices will be sent to all Spring 2020 ticket and RV site holders explaining how to exchange for another festival. The remainder of camping tickets to the Spring 2022 Strawberry Music Festival will go on sale on Monday, November 1,2021, at 9:00am. We are very excited to get back to the business of making festival and will be genuinely elated to offer the Strawberry standard of customer care. Thank you all so much for your incredible patience, support, and kindness during this long closure. We cannot wait to hear from you and begin the long process of catching up. In the meantime, we hope you are staying healthy and safe during this difficult time, and look forward to seeing you next May!



October 23, 1949 – July 8, 2021

Last Thursday, we lost fellow Board member, community icon, and dear friend, Al O’Brien. Al has been a friend to the Strawberry Music Festival community since the early days, and had just joined Rock In Road’s Board of Directors in 2019. Besides being an incredibly kind and wonderful person, Al O’Brien is widely known for having the knowhow and the drive to get stuff done. He got a lot of good stuff done for this community during his time here, and the impact of his work here will continue to benefit others for generations to come. Al was particularly involved in our annual Band Stand fundraiser and in 2019, he helped Rock In Road to raise over $22,000 towards instrument purchases for local school band programs, by helping to obtain a matching grant from the Sonora Area Foundation. He also helped the Band Stand event find its home at the Sheriff Posse Grounds and forge a partnership between our two organizations. Even though, Al was on sabbatical from active Board duty, he still managed to reserve the grounds for our date this year, as well as securing Posse sponsorship of the event.

Long before Rock In Road, Al O’Brien’s involvement with the Strawberry Music Festival dates back to the beginning and spans a range of capacities, over many years time. In the early 80’s he helped to procure new coin operated washing machines when Strawberry was managing the laundry facilities at Camp Mather, along with the General Store. Many years later Strawberry had the good fortune of working with Al at Westside as the liaison to the Tuolumne Economic Development Authority (TEDA). After he had retired from TEDA, Al helped manage marketing for the festival and eventually became Strawberry’s Fire Marshall Liaison at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Over this past two years, everyone involved in the Strawberry Music Festival and Rock In Road organizations were heartily looking forward to returning to the work with Al, as well as just being able to visit with our dear friend.

This year instead, we will have to look to the legacy of a man that was larger than life itself and try to live by the example he set for us. Al O’Brien was, and is, so very respected and loved by so many people, and so many different kinds of people. He will be deeply missed on our Board and in our community. We offer our deepest condolences to his beautiful wife and daughters, to the rest of his family, and to his many, many friends. Rest in peace Al <3



Because of your support, the Hog Ranch Radio broadcast “Keep Tuned and Berry On” was a re-sounding success! Thousands tuned in over the course of the four day broadcast, many listeners requested a free QSL card to commemorate the occasion, and 55 charitable donations were made to Rock in Road to help offset the cost of the special Strawberry retrospective. A lot of positive feedback came in throughout the event, even though there were a few glitches along the way. The stories and songs that were contributed by listeners and performers really made the moment, and we especially appreciate the wide level of community participation. This project has been deeply meaningful to everybody involved and we are all so grateful for the opportunity.


In particular, we would like to thank the small group of volunteers who imagined this broadcast, and made it a reality. We could not have done it without the enthusiastic participation of Hog Ranch Radio engineers, programmers, and DJs: Dave “Buzz” Barnett, Bix Beeman, Lisa “Sea Shanty” Bryant, Stu Grossman, Luke Hess, Margie Kay, Gregg McVicar, David Ogilvy, Tim Pozar, Felton Pruitt, and Christa Taylor. Rock In Road’s sponsorship was crucial, and Board members, Jodi Barnett, Mark Curfman, Tom Jepson, Tim McCaffrey, Becky Roberts, and Jessica Shapiro also donated their time. Strawberry Music Festival volunteers who helped to make the broadcast possible are Fred Carter, Charlie Cran, Kim Curbelo Roy Dohring, Steve Lavine, Jimmy Lipscomb, and Mitch Third. A big round of applause goes out to all of those who listened, performed remotely, submitted recorded messages and performances, told stories on the air, and sent feedback. Last but not least, we are eternally grateful to anyone and everyone who has ever been part of the Strawberry community, or practiced the Strawberry Way.


Those who requested a commemorative QSL card can expect postal delivery in 1 to 2 weeks. QSL cards are traditionally used by HAM operators, shortwave, and some AM/FM radio broadcasters, to confirm the reception of signal or broadcast. Rock In Road thought it would be a fun promotion to do this for the 68th Hog Ranch Radio broadcast of “Keep Tuned and Berry On.” Board member and local graphic artist, Tim McCaffrey, donated custom artwork for the front of the card. There are still a limited number of collectible Hog 68 QSL cards available, so it is not too late to get one. Simply fill out our QSL card request form to verify what you heard during the broadcast. Thanks again to Rock In Road for making it happen.


We hope this past broadcast of Berry goodness can tide us all over until we can be together again in person for the Spring 2022 Strawberry Music Festival at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Tickets to our 40th anniversary festival and celebratory return to live music, taking place May 26th – 30th, will go on sale at 9:00 am on November 1st of this year. Our staff is eager to get back to the work of making festival and we expect to return for regular fall/winter business hours in September. Thank you for your patience during this extraordinary time. We can hardly wait to see, you then and there. In the meantime, please Keep Tuned and Berry on!


Rock In Road presents a Hog Ranch Radio Broadcast “Keep Tuned and Berry On” starting officially at 8am today! Some of you may be able to tune in at 93.1 FM near the Jamestown area of Tuolumne County. Others can stream this live radio event at for free. More information about programming will be announced during the broadcast. We will be posting a phone number for call ins soon. Keep Tuned and Berry On

UPDATE: URL link to stream has now been corrected for those who are having trouble listening with the original link posted.


Our special Strawberry-time broadcast is set to begin in just one week. We have received a few questions about how to listen and what to expect. So here is what you need to know:

WHAT: Hog Ranch Radio Broadcast of all things Strawberry; past, present, and future. From campground jam to mainstage, and everything in between, this Free Form Radio show will tell our collective Strawberry story, through the voices of the people who have made the festival what it is.

WHEN: Thursday, May 27th at 8am through Sunday, May 30th at 8pm

HOW to listen: You will be able to listen free via live stream or over fm radio in Tuolumne County. The link to listen, as well as the radio frequency and listening area, will be pushed out via email notification and on Strawberry website the evening of Wednesday, May 26th.

HOW to participate: In addition to listening, there are a number of optional ways you or your camp can participate, such as:

  • Thursday morning at 8am you will be able to join in the Zoom fuse of horns.
  • You will be able to telephone or Zoom us during the broadcast (Thu – Sun, 8am -5pm) to tell your Strawberry story live on the air or recorded for playback. Feel free to talk about your origin story, a funny memory, crew activities, late night shenanigans, random acts of kindness, special people who have come and gone, and/or give a special shout out to camp mates and festival friends.
  • You and/or your camp can schedule a live remote performance from your own backyard jam via telephone or Zoom. Please fill out our participation interest form in advance to receive a time slot and follow up instruction.
  • Additionally, there are a very few slots available for live, in-studio performance during the broadcast, for those who are in Tuolumne County and can show proof of vaccination.
  • Anyone who contacts us during the broadcast can receive a special, collectible post card
     confirming your reception of this live pirate broadcast.
  • You can support the broadcast by making a tax deductible contribution to Rock In Road.

WHY: Rock In Road presents this special broadcast to support Strawberry connections until we can see each other again at the Spring 2022 Strawberry Music Festival.

Look for our May 26th announcement, which will contain the plus link and frequency to listen with, as well as the Zoom link, telephone number, and email address to reach us at during the broadcast, in addition to more details about the QSL post card promotion. In the meantime, please “Keep Tuned and Berry On.”



By the time Memorial Day weekend rolls around; it will still be another full year before we are able to gather again in person, at the Spring 2022 Strawberry Music Festival. Many of us are wondering how to commemorate the occasion and are eager to connect with festival friends. Who couldn’t use a little bit of the Strawberry Way to get us through this next year? The good news is that the pirates have teamed up with the non-profits to save the date!

Our non-profit partner, Rock In Road is pleased to present a Hog Ranch Radio broadcast of all things Strawberry. For four full days, Hogsters will expand on their original mandate to be the voice of the campground to become the voice of Strawberry camps dispersed. Our beloved pirates will draw from an extensive audio archive of recorded material from every corner of the festival program, to tell the stories and share the songs of Stawberry past. The Hog will also connect to Strawberry present through the remote broadcast of live performances, shout-outs, and backyard jams. Our collective Strawberry future will take shape in the form of Spring 2022 performer cameos, as well as in the positive energy we create together from this event. In keeping with the Hog’s mission, there will be lots of opportunities for audience participation.

Please fill out our Participation Interest Form or email us at to express your interest in getting involved. You will also be able to contact us during the broadcast to receive a special commemorative QSL card by mail, with written confirmation of the time, date, and location you received the broadcast. Please stay tuned for more details, links, and frequency to follow.

The event will be broadcast on low-power FM from Jamestown, CA. Please note that this event is not open to the public and will be produced with the very bare minimum of volunteers on site in order to comply with COVID-19 safe practices and protect the health and safety of our essential workers. Festival fans will also be able to hear the broadcast wherever they are, via a totally free stream. Please stay tuned for more details, links, and frequency to follow.

We are especially grateful to Strawberry’s non-profit partners who have sponsored the event, the QSL promotion, as well as access via live stream. Visit the Rock In Road website to learn more about them and their projects. Tax deductible donations in support of the broadcast will be accepted by Rock in Road via PayPal. We hope you will join in the fun for “Keep Tuned and Berry On”.


Max DeLacy at Spring ’16 Strawberry Music Festival

Strawberry is sad to announce that our dear friend, and Stage Manager, Max DeLacy, died this past Tuesday. He passed peacefully at his home, after a quiet and courageous battle with a recent recurrence of adenoid cystic carcinoma. Max’s presence on this planet is now sharply missed and his absence has left a huge hole in so many hearts. Having grown up at Strawberry and in the Columbia music scene, this live music community has played a huge role in Max’s life since the very beginning. Many of you remember him when he was a young tike busking with his fiddle along Hog Ranch Road and/or on the Main Street of Columbia.

Max cultivated his natural aptitude for the behind-the-scenes side of music production into a very successful career and was highly skilled in technical areas such as sound, lighting, rigging, production advance, and stage management. Max perfected his approach to each endeavor in his own subtle style and with a uniquely humble grace. He was well respected in his trade and proud member #134 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).

He applied that same fervor to the making of music. After having learned and played nearly every stringed instrument known to human, found his passion for the dobro, about 10 years ago. From that time on, he worked diligently to perfect his sound, notation, and instrumentation and even studied under masters of the craft, such as Jerry Douglass, who he deeply admired and modeled his style of playing after. Over the past several years, Max has become one of the best performing artists in the area, a highly sought after musical companion, and a singular force and stalwart advocate for the old time and bluegrass jam scene in Columbia.

Beyond that, Max was one of the nicest people we have ever known, so incredibly kind, and easy to be around. Hundreds of his best friends are deeply connected now in this loss, as is evident by the outpouring of love, shock, and sadness we are all sharing. Besides being our Stage Manager, Max also worked in the Strawberry office regularly for many years and we can hardly fathom our reality without him. A really nice tribute to Max’s life and his musicianship was published on the front page of yesterday’s Union Democrat and can be found by scrolling through to the fifth full feature article. A celebration of his life will be planned for sometime around late June.

We are sending unending love and our deepest condolences to his entire family. We will do our best to keep Max’s spirit alive in the music, as well as in the way we treat each other. Rest in peace, dear friend. You will be profoundly missed.


Hello friends. A lot has happened since we last corresponded, asking for your feedback about Spring 2021. We heard you, and are tremendously grateful for all of your thoughtful comments and incredible kindness.

Many factors have informed this difficult decision. Strawberry has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of festival attendees, staff, vendors, performers, and local residents, as well as our civic responsibility to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The CDC categorizes festivals as posing a high risk of community transmission and there is currently a state mandate in place that festivals cannot take place. Federal officials have recently stated that the timeline for widespread vaccination is late July and a return to normal activity is anticipated sometime before Christmas. Therefore, we feel our best path forward is to spend this time cultivating a truly authentic Strawberry experience, for 2022.

Our mission is to preserve our Americana music camping festival culture. In careful consideration of your feedback, we have become confident that it will not be the real deal until we all feel safe being there. To feel like Strawberry, it is essential that kids, elders, and everyone in between are able to play, sing, dance, eat, drink, laugh, and love (occasionally with wild abandon). We will only endeavor to produce events that meet the Strawberry standard of quality, and will not try to replace that with something else.

Tickets to the Spring 2020 Strawberry Music Festival have more value than ever. We understand that some Spring 2020 ticket holders will not be able to attend next year, and others still will not be able to attend at all, so we have revised our ticket policy accordingly.

  • Spring 2020 tickets will hold the value of their product description for the ticket holder’s choice of the next four festivals, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. In other words, a 4-Day Camping ticket to Spring 2020, will be good for a 4-Day Camping to the Spring 2022, 2023, 2024, or 2025 Strawberry Music Festival, regardless of the price at that time. With this option, customers will be able to keep their collectible 2020 pandemic ticket and new tickets will be issued. More instructions, about how to exchange for another festival, are to follow.
  • Tickets to the Spring 2022 Festival will go on sale, at a whole new price level, on Monday, November 1st 2021.
  • Some of our supporters have expressed an interest in donating money and/or tickets back to the cause. Your tax deductible donation can now be made to Rock In Road’s Strawberry Preserve Fund which will be used to support the value of all Spring 2020 tickets, and the ticket holder community in general.
  • Upon the conclusion of the next festival, priority will be given to refunding tickets that are still unused. Strawberry is currently unable to offer refunds at large.

We are collectively invested in preserving our Folk/Americana music community, and way of life. There are few who have escaped the impact of this deadly virus, and we are all sharing in this burden together. It is more important than ever that we live our core values, especially in business. Performers are facing incredible challenges in routing and building a financially solvent tour, while staying healthy and safe. You may recall that, at the onset of the pandemic, Strawberry paid full deposits to our performers. This gave them, and their team, some sense of stability, at a time of total turmoil. In return, many of them have renewed their commitment and enthusiasm for a return to the Strawberry stage, so you can expect the lineup to be largely the same for 2022. Our continued collaboration with the non-profit, Rock In Road, furthers their mission to enhance and extend The Strawberry Way. We also plan to support the Nevada County Fairgrounds with an additional Brush Crew weekend in 2021. Strawberry continues to work with all of its community partners to ensure that we can come back better than ever, together, in 2022.

We are looking forward to the most epic gathering of friends, family, and music lovers. The reason we are able to look forward with such enthusiasm is because of your support. While this pandemic is unlike any challenge we have faced before, we feel that Strawberry is uniquely poised to survive, and even thrive, because of our past experience, and because we are a tightly knit, multi-generational community. Strawberry truly is YOUR festival and will be worth the wait. Together, we can turn these lemons into delicious Strawberry lemonade.

We cannot wait to get back to the business of making festival. Please stay tuned for more news and we hope to see you there in 2022!


Last week, the Strawberry community lost our dear friend, Sandy Ashton. Sandy began volunteering on the Garbage/Recycle Crew in the early 90’s and has been a mainstay on that crew ever since. Many of us understand crew camaraderie, but the Garbage/Recycle Crew is especially tight, having camped together for many years. We know they are all feeling this loss profoundly, as are the many friends and admirers Sandy made along the way. We are holding them all, her family, friends, and especially Sandy’s partner Will, in our collective Strawberry heart, as we offer our deepest condolences. Sandy was always positive, always willing to help, and truly embodied the essence of The Strawberry Way. The absence of her brilliant light and joyous spirit will be tangible. Rest in peace, dear, sweet friend.