Since 1990, the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival has been held at the Salem County Fair Grounds, which are located in the rolling farmland of South Jersey along US Route 40, seven miles east of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. The nearest town to the grounds is Woodstown, New Jersey, which is approximately four miles farther east along Route 40. The nearest major city is Wilmington, Delaware, which is across the Delaware River, approximately 10 miles to the west-northwest. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is approximately 40 miles to the northwest, and Atlantic City, New Jersey is about 60 miles to the southeast, at the end of Route 40. The Fair Grounds are located on land that is owned by Salem County, and operated by the Salem County Fair Grounds Association. In addition to hosting the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival each year, the annual Salem County Fair is also held there, as well as a number of 4-H and other farming and agricultural events. Because it is Salem County property, there is a ‘no alcoholic beverages’ regulation in force at all times.
Stage Area and Seating
The stage area features a large canopy, under which a large portion of the audience is able to sit during performances and remain dry or shady, depending on the weather. There are no permanent seats in this area, so festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs. Seating space under the canopy is on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8:00 am on Wednesday morning preceding the festival weekend, and chairs may be left in place at the owner’s risk for the entire festival. However, the policy of the festival committee is that empty chairs may be occupied by anyone, so long as the chair is graciously relinquished upon the rightful owner’s return. For those who prefer to sit out in the sunshine or under the stars, there is ample room outside the stage canopy to set up lawn chairs or spread out blankets. In addition, there is bleacher-style seating around the perimeter of the stage area, and shady lawn-chair seating with good visibility is also available in the pavilion barn at the back of the stage area.
Concessions and Food Services
There is a full-service food concession on the festival grounds close to the stage, as well as a hand-dipped ice cream booth and a stand for campers to buy bagged ice. For those desiring a wider choice of dining options, there are restaurants in Woodstown that offer respectable fare at reasonable prices. (See ‘Leaving and Re-entering the Festival Grounds’, below). The Woodstown Diner is located on US 40 in the middle of town, about 4 miles east of the festival, and they serve standard restaurant fare. One block past the Diner is La Vita, an Italian eatery that is also popular. For those whose needs can be found at a convenience store, there is a Wawa store about 3 miles east on US 40, where the highway makes an abrupt left turn on its way into Woodstown. For more extensive grocery shopping, there is an Acme supermarket on US 40 in the large shopping center just before turning left at the Wawa. As at most festivals, there is always a selection of other concessions at Delaware Valley selling a variety of things: records & CDs, instruments & strings, T-shirts, belts and buckles, hats, books and more.
Visiting the Campground
Many people attending bluegrass festivals enjoy wandering through the campground and listening in on the many informal jam sessions, and sometimes even some of the ‘stage’ talent joins in. Festival patrons are free to roam the campground as long as they respect the rights of campers, but only vehicles with camping passes (free with a weekend ticket) will be allowed in the campground.
Leaving and Re-entering the Festival Grounds
All festival patrons are issued wristbands at the time they first enter the grounds upon paying for their tickets or presenting their advance ticket receipt. These wristbands are different colors, depending on the day they are valid, and must be worn at all times while on the grounds. As long as he or she has a valid wristband, any festival patron may leave the festival grounds at any time, but must display the valid wristband at the gate upon re-entering.
Festival security is handled by off-duty Salem County officers privately hired by the festival committee, and they are on duty 24 hours a day throughout the festival weekend, from 8:00 am Friday morning through 6:00 pm Sunday evening. A New Jersey State Police barracks is also located a short distance to the east of the festival grounds on US 40, and in recent years the State Police have provided bicycle patrols of the grounds.
An ambulance unit from one of the local Salem County fire companies is on duty near the stage area throughout the festival weekend. An information and ‘lost and found’ service is also operated by the festival organizers (Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music) at their table in the pavilion barn at the rear of the stage area.
There is ample free parking for festival patrons who are not camping. Although there is no charge for camping, only vehicles belonging to campers will be allowed in the campground. Camping is available only to weekend ticket holders, and camping vehicles must obtain a special pass. Special parking for handicapped patrons is also available; if necessary, please request this at the time you enter the gate.
There are a number of portable toilets located throughout the stage area and campground that are cleaned regularly. There is also a permanent restroom facility located behind the stage, along the campground road. Spigots for fresh water are located at most of the pavilions on the grounds.