HUNTERSVILLE – “Back to the Roots” will be the theme for the 10th annual Barnstock music festival – to be held Saturday, July 21. And it will be an ideal time to reflect on the long, strange trip it’s been as Barnstock has evolved from a high school service project into a north Mecklenburg summer tradition celebrating music, fellowship and the spirit of giving.

Siblings Daniel, Miles and Julia Brown are the driving forces behind Barnstock, which started in 2009 and has been held every summer since at the family’s property off Black Farms Road. Initially envisioned as a way to support the Davidson Fire Department (Davidson’s fire chief was a family neighbor) while meeting requirements of a Cannon School class assignment, Barnstock’s mix of local musical talent featured in a fun, festival setting fostered a loyal following from the outset.

As Barnstock organizers, performers and regular attendees grew up, so did the event. The first festival featured three bands and attracted about 300 friends, most of them teenagers. In recent years, the event has matured into a 21-and-over, “bring your own beverage” affair, and last year, 40 different groups performed for more than 1,000 people.

The Davidson Fire Department has been a regular benefactor, and Barnstock proceeds have also been shared with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the American Red Cross, National Public Radio, Second Harvest Food Bank, Cannon School and several local and regional charities. Through the previous nine Barnstock festivals, more than $105,000 has been raised and distributed.

It has evolved into a rite of summer for many who live in the area and an annual “can’t miss” reunion for those now living in other places. On the festival’s Facebook page there are multiple references made to trip plans and airline ticket purchases with Barnstock as the destination.

“It’s been amazing to be a part of it,” Miles Brown said.

He worked with Daniel and Julia again this year to lay the groundwork for Barnstock. And, since he now lives in Colorado, he will also be among those flying in for this year’s festival.

In putting together plans for the 10th anniversary event, Miles said everyone involved agreed it would be a good time to embrace how it started.

“The ‘back to the roots’ focus was intentional,” he said. “When this started, we didn’t know what it would become, and we want to keep it going as long as we can. But we also want to stay in touch with everyone who has been a part of it.”

He said Barnstock has a “solid core” of supporters – performers and attendees – and he hopes the 2018 event will provide a chance for everyone in the Barnstock “family” to celebrate what the event has become.

Fifteen performers are scheduled to take part, although traditionally that number has expanded as the festival date approaches. One of the groups will be the Girls Rock Charlotte house band, representing the nonprofit that is the primary benefactor of this year’s Barnstock fundraising efforts.

The Girls Rock Charlotte organization focuses on enhancing the confidence of all girls and women through the power of music.

“It’s perfect for what our goal has always been, bringing people together through music,” Miles said. “And this year, with empowering women as a theme everywhere, it’s a great fit.”

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