“We are simple people living a simple life who simply love bluegrass music.” That’s how MerleFest volunteers Teresa and Kelly Penegar of Laurel Springs, North Carolina, describe themselves. Kelly is a self-employed farmer/mechanic in beautiful Ashe County in the mountains of North Carolina. Teresa works as a Product Analyst in the Marketing Department at SkyLine Membership Corporation in West Jefferson.
Kelly, a lifelong lover and follower of bluegrass music, has been attending the festival for over twenty years; and, after meeting Teresa, Kelly took her to her first MerleFest in 2007. As they watched volunteers at work, they decided to go that route themselves. Now they put their skills from working in TV studios (Teresa) and with area bluegrass bands (Kelly) to good use helping out as Stage Crew volunteers.
The couple is ecstatic about assisting at an event that helps others enjoy the music in which they are so passionate. “Our volunteer efforts help bring important fundraiser dollars to a community-based college campus that assists not only local youth but the adult population as well. Wilkes Community College is a lifeline not only for students from Wilkes but also the surrounding counties of Ashe and Alleghany.”
Teresa, a runner in area 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons, has participated in the Communities in Schools’ (a MerleFest volunteer group) 5K race several times. She loves the fact that the race raises money for sixth graders interested in attending Wilkes Community College in the future. She feels that by awarding scholarships to younger students, it will help keep them on the right track to finishing high school and taking that first step toward their college education. Teresa is planning her first full marathon run for late 2011.
Kelly is passionate about United States history and bluegrass music, and he has a knack for working on motorcycles. Newlyweds of just two years, the couple has bought their first home and enjoy the company of their two doggies—Patsy and Loretta. They hope to add a little Penegar to their world in the near future.
Coming up with his favorite MerleFest artist is no problem for Kelly—it is, of course, Doc Watson followed closely by John Cowan. (Cowan will be appearing with the Doobie Brothers and John Cowan & Friends at MerleFest 2011!) Teresa’s all-time favorite is Rhonda Vincent. She has fond memories of her first year to see Rhonda play at the festival—“A terrible thunderstorm rolled in and the rain poured down. But, it didn’t deter her from putting on one heck of a show. Her passion for playing for all those people who were roughing it in the weather made me love her that much more.” A close second for Teresa is the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and after working at the stage with Cadillac Sky at last year’s MerleFest, that group (now disbanded) has become another favorite.
True music lovers with the hearts for volunteering, that’s Teresa and Kelly. About themselves they say, “There’s nothing grand or great about us that we think anyone would find interesting. We simply are.” Here at MerleFest we believe that all our volunteers are grand AND great and that everyone has an interesting story to share.