In 1975, Dean Northey from Kingston, Ontario attended a bluegrass festival in Charlotte, Michigan, USA where he met with Jim and Jesse and the Virginal Boys, a top bluegrass band and members of the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee. Dean was very impressed by their stage appearance, music and singing. The following year, 1976, Dean returned to Charlotte and met with Jim and Jesse again. They discussed the possibility of having a Bluegrass Festival in the Kingston area. The decision was made to proceed and a date was set for July, 1977 to have the first Bluegrass Jamboree in this area in Ontario, Dean Northey in partnership with Jim and Jesse. The plan was to book groups from USA and Canada.
The property selected for the event was near the village of Barriefield on the east side of the Greater Cataraqui River across from the City of Kingston on a farm owned by Mr. Kenneth Wood, Dean's father—in-law. The property would require a great deal of landscaping which was done by Dean, brother, Murry, and many helpers. By the first day of July 1977, the property, 50 acres, had been transformed into a beautiful park.
The attendance at the first festival was approximately 3,000+, and increased in the following years. The festival continued until 1984, eight years. Other festivals followed suit, including Denbigh, Pembroke, Renfrew, Lombardy, Spencerville, Marble Lake, Tottenham, Palmer Rapids, Minden and others.
Entertainers at the Dean Northey‘s Kingston Bluegrass Festival:
Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, Spirits of Bluegrass, Jim and Jesse, Dixie Flyers Mac Wiseman, Buck White and Down Homefolks, Don Reno, Country Gentlemen McClain Family Bank, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Doyle Lawson, Hickory Wind, Lewis Family (Little Roy), Gary Adams, Whetstone Run, Stoneman Family, Bytown Bluegrass, Dennis Lepage, Rideau River Grass, Blue Mule, Lonzo and Oscar, Bluegrass Alliance