New Owners to Keep Salmon Lake Park Traditions

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – With Memorial Day just around the corner and with new owners at Salmon Lake Park, many questions were being asked.

One of the first questions asked was if the Memorial Day Gospel Bluegrass Music Festival would continue. The answer is a definitive yes as the RVs began to roll in on Tuesday afternoon. There is one change, however.

In honor of Floyd Salmon, the event’s founder, the festival has been renamed as the Floyd Salmon Memorial Day Gospel Bluegrass Music Festival.

As far as the new owners, Carolyn Salmon Kazmierczak – daughter of Floyd and Fannie Salmon – and Colee Biller Littlefield – director of Texas Bluegrass Music, LLC – put together a short sketch of new owners David and Leah Powers.

The award-winning Marksmen Quartet will perform at the 21st annual Gospel Bluegrass Fest, May 24-27 at Salmon Lake Park in Grapeland, Texas. The Marksmen will appear Saturday and Sunday at the four-day event beginning Thursday. Courtesy Photo.

“David and Leah have embraced and appreciate what Floyd and Fannie began here at Salmon Lake Park. The Salmons had a vision – one that’s not complete. But through David and Leah’s support and recognition of their dreams, they plan to carry on and continue what Floyd and Fannie created. Salmon Lake Park will continue to be exactly what it was intended to be: a family fun campground and an RV park to include the annual Bluegrass Festivals during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends,” the bio sketch stated.

On Tuesday of this week, The Messenger had a chance to visit with Leah Powers who said she and her husband were thrilled to be in Grapeland.

Asked what led the couple to purchase the park, Powers said, “I think that was a God thing. We met Mr. Salmon in October and he told us he was selling the property. At first, we both thought this was too big of a project for us. But we love the park and the history he has out here.”

She said even though they were skeptical at first “… we kept looking into it and the right doors kept opening. It seemed like this was where God was leading us.”

“We had talked about opening an RV park 12 years ago when we moved to Jacksonville. We looked at purchasing the Purple Peacock there but that’s a clothing optional park on Highway 84 but that never worked out,” Powers said with a laugh.

“We thought about the different skills my husband has. He has electrical and plumbing skills and can handle the emergencies that come up out here,” she continued. “We started hosting the East Texas Mini Shindig about five years ago. It’s a homeschool family camp and is about 600 people. It’s nothing like the size of the Bluegrass Festivals, but we started organizing that and I believe that was just God preparing us for a bigger deal.”

The Powers’ family officially closed on the property last Friday, she explained.

“Carolyn (Kazmierczak) has been great through this whole thing. The whole (Salmon) family has. They have all been very kind and helpful,” she said.

Powers was asked if she and her husband planned to keep the bluegrass festivals going and she said that was a definite.

“We want to stay with this – the family friendly vision – we want to keep that going. That will stay the same. We will be moving trash and cleaning bathrooms and playing in the lake with everyone else,” Powers said.

While the couple plans to keep the Memorial Day and Labor Day festivals the same, Powers added she would like to see the park bring in more events.

“We have been asked to do something on the Fourth of July and that’s coming up pretty quick. We will also do some family camps and some home school camps. Hopefully, people will want to come in. We hope to do a car show or a tractor show, things like that. Things that bring the community together,” she said.

As far as what the couple’s vision for Salmon’s Lake Park is, Powers said first they would be keeping the name and second they hoped to expand on the family friendly side of the park as well as the historical side of it.

“There are some church camps we want to put in. We would like to put some dorms in and a kitchen with a venue for weddings,” she said.

In regard to this weekend, Powers said Colle Littlefield had done a wonderful job of booking the musical acts and organizing the festival.

The weekend event kicks off on Wednesday with a potluck supper at 6 p.m. at the pavilion. Opening ceremonies will be held on Thursday, May 24 at 6 p.m. followed by the performers taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.

The Thursday night lineup includes: The Punches Family at 6:30 p.m.; The Blake Brothers at 7:30 p.m.; Robertson County Line at 8:30 p.m.; and Trinity River at 9:30 p.m.

The Friday lineup includes: The Punches Family at 1 p.m.; The Blake Brothers at 1:45 p.m.; Southern Raised at 2:20 p.m.; Mark Krider and the Southfork Grass Band at 3:15; Trinity River at 4 p.m.; and Alan Sibley and the Magnolia Ramblers at 4:45 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m. on Friday, the musicians will take a break for supper but will crank back up at 6:30 with Mark Krider and the Southfork Grass Band. They will be followed by the Blake Brothers at 7:15 p.m.; The Punches Family at 8 p.m.; Dead End Road at 8:45 p.m.; Dead End Road at 8:45 p.m.; Southern Raised at 9:30 p.m.; and Alan Sibley and the Magnolia Ramblers will close the Friday night show beginning at 10:15 p.m.

The Saturday festivities begin at 1 p.m. with Dead End Road. Alan Sibley and the Magnolia Ramblers follows at 1:45 p.m. Catahoula Drive takes the stage at 2:20 p.m., Southern Raised at 2:20 p.m. begins

at 3:15; Christian Davis starts at 4 p.m. and The Marksmen perform at 4:45 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, the musicians will take a break for supper but will crank back up at 6:30 with and Alan Sibley and the Magnolia Ramblers. Dead End Road follows at 7:15 p.m. Saltgrass takes the stage at 8 p.m. Christian Davis follows at 8:45 p.m. Catahoula Drive returns at 9:30 p.m. and The Marksmen close out the Saturday performances at 10:15 p.m.

On Sunday, there will be a Devotional at 11 a.m. Catahoula Drive performs at 1 p.m., Saltgrass takes the stage at 2 p.m., Robertson County line follows at 3 p.m. and The Marksmen bring the festival to a close at 4 p.m.

Admission is $60 for an advance four day pass. A four day pass at the gate is $65. Individual day passes are: $15 – Thursday; $20 – Friday; $20 – Saturday; and $15 – Sunday.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.