Starvy Creek Bluegrass

Posted March 13th, 2019

I am tickled to learn that Starvy Creek is still hosting bluegrass festivals with the best of the best, and with local bands, in the bluegrass world. This recollection comes from a visit I made, back in 2003. ~BB

Sometimes we just have to try something, even if we are sure that we won’t like it. For example, I’ve always been a little suspicious of gooseberries. I mean, they are green – therefore, the child in me balks at sampling them. 

Anther example of not liking something without a good reason was my old aversion to the music of Lester Flatt And Earl Scruggs. Why 20 years ago, I would howl like a hound dog when I listened to my husband’s bluegrass tapes. Or I’d just plug my nose and sing along. Either way, he would eventually get the hint, and turn it off.

Then I got older and wiser. Now I’m an editor at a bluegrass magazine in Rolla, and not so long ago, I sat at a bluegrass festival in the Ozarks and ate a piece of gooseberry pie.


The pie was called Starvy Creek Gooseberry Pie, in honor of the festival. According to the women working in the cook shack, someone’s little old auntie made the pie. 

Actually, I had no intention of ordering a piece of gooseberry pie, but when I went up to the window to place my order, I figured, “I’m ready for a change.” 

Am I ever glad I placed that order. The pie tasted tart in places and sweet in other places. It reminded me of what a food critic once wrote about Indian food when he described it as having a different flavor in each bite. Topped with a scoop of ice cream, the pie finished off my first course, A Starvy Creek burger and Fritos, quite nicely.

I ate this wonderful pie while listening to some of the finest bluegrass bands in the country – no, in the world. Starvy Creek holds two festivals per year (July and September) in an oak-tree filled amphitheater, set out in the countryside near Conway, Mo. Don and Bobbie Day own the park and this year marks the 12th year of fall festivals.

The main difference between Starvy Creek’s festival and other local festivals is the quality of bluegrass artists there. As I mentioned, several top-tier, award-winning bands come to Starvy. So, for a $12 admission fee for one day, festival-goers can hear bands of the caliber of Rhonda Vincent, The Country Gentlemen, The Chapmans, Front Range and the Faris Family. Several other fine regional bands will appear onstage, too.

Starvy Creek Bluegrass

For those of you who have never attended a bluegrass festival, you should know that they are very different from concerts or outdoor shows put on by country artists. Bluegrass artists are very accessible to their fans. They visit with fans after the shows and sign autographs. They’ll even do some “pickin’,” if time permits.

Since no alcohol, bare feet, bare chests, or lude behavior is permitted, you can also be assured of settling in amongst civilized people. I’ll bet you could even leave your wallet on your lawn chair and it would still be there when you returned. 

Now that I think about it, bluegrass is a lot like gooseberry pie. Some bluegrass songs are sweet and sappy, while others are sour – such as tales of losing a sweetheart, or the death of a child, or those famous prison songs. Throw in a little gospel music, some swing, a spiritual, and maybe a train song (The Orange Blossom Special?), and you have bluegrass – a mixture of the sweet and sour things in life.

Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers
Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers

So, if you’ve never tried gooseberry pie, or if you think bluegrass belongs to the hillbillies, you may want to check out any of the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festivals. For more information, check the website at

From St. Robert, take I-44 to Springfield. Take the Conway exit (exit 113) near Lebanon, and then look for Highway Y. Follow gravel road until you see signs for Starvy Creek Road.


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