The 17th annual New River Blues Festival is returning to the High Country over Labor Day weekend. Gates open at noon on Sept. 1, and music is from 1-6 p.m. on the lawn of River House Inn, which will provide beverages. Kelman’s Bon Appetit is this year’s food vendor, and vegetarian options will be available.

The King Bees, a local blues band with a history of international touring, will celebrate its 32nd anniversary at this year’s festival.

“They’re kind of the anchor group,” said Donovan Murray, event organizer. “They’ve always brought the music.”

The New River Blues Festival has been named one of the top ten things to do on Labor Day weekend by Our State Magazine, and it has become an important musical tradition in Ashe County.

“It helps to preserve classic blues because we bring back a lot of old performers,” said Murray. “Quite a few of the folks that have been with us have passed away over the last several years, but we’re trying to keep that authentic bit of Piedmont Blues.”

Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets, umbrellas and canopies as the festival will happen rain or shine, and the festival is family friendly.

Advance tickets are on sale until Aug. 31 for $18 per person. The River House Inn is located at 1896 Old Field Creek Rd. in Grassy Creek. A $5 car parking fee is collected at the gate. For more information and a complete list of bands at this year’s festival, visit www.newriverbluesfestival.info.

Luke Weir contributed reporting to this story.

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