GUTHRIE — Dan Short was easily spotted in his front-row seat at the bluegrass festival.
His white hair was noticeable, and his enthusiasm for bluegrass music was as plain as the Santa beard on his face as he tapped his toes and sang along with the musicians.
Short said only a few weeks remain until he starts his gig as Santa at the North Pole City Christmas store just off Interstate 44 in Oklahoma City.
Until then, he said, there was no place he’d rather be than in Guthrie, catching up with his favorite bands.
“I grew up in western North Carolina, and as a kid I listened to bluegrass all the time; this is just a little taste of home,” Short said. “I used to fall asleep listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio; this music is in me.”
The 16th annual Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival went off without a hitch over the weekend as thousands turned out for the three-day festival at Cottonwood Flats just north of downtown.
Eighteen artists filled the schedule, which was headlined by Oklahoma native and 20-time Grammy Award winner Vince Gill.
Short said the camaraderie among the fans is also a huge draw for him.
“People are very friendly and easygoing, and with this kind of festival everyone is here because they love the music and are just good folks,” he said.
Jim Triggs has been coming to the festival since the first one in 1996. He and his wife, Mary Ann, travel from Nashville, Tenn., to sell his handmade musical instruments.
Triggs, who said he recently sold eight guitars to singer Jimmy Buffett, loves coming to Guthrie because the atmosphere is different from the larger festivals.
“I like it because it’s small,” Triggs said. “It’s just good music and good people.”
George Kokendoffer, of Mustang, said he didn’t expect the chilly weekend weather but added he had been through worse in his 16 years of attending the festival.
“I was here when Willie Nelson played, and it was bitterly cold that night,” he said. “Willie’s music kept me warm, though.”