He is astonished at the growing attention the event has earned with the advent of the net. First posting a website stompin76.com in 2000 to commemorate the event's memories, then re-creating the original Tshirt which is sold on the site to pay for annual web maintenance expenses, Hal is amazed at the number of attendees now recanting their experiences 35 years later.
Now there's a Facebook site "I was there Stompin 76", where fellow Stompers tell their stories, trade information and souvenirs from the iconic 3 days in August.
Donna Segalla Steel said "The festival that stands out above the rest was Stompin 76. Wow! I traveled there with 3 friends from NJ in a VW van, of course. We got there late at night. I remember seeing all the Pagans when we pulled into the grounds. We got stuck on the road close to the river and that is where we wound up camping. Not only was the music line up fantastic but since my boyfriend was a musician, I listened to many great jam sessions."
Clark Robbins wrote " We got there Thursday night about midnight and set up - wasn't a level spot anywhere, so I set my tent up so I would roll down against the side and not slide out the door. Each morning the PA would fire up with "Let Your Love Flow" by the Bellamy Bros. (anyone else remember that?). The creek that fed into the river was the place to be - everyone sharing the Dr. Brohnnans each morning. White Lightning was $4 a cup (dispensed via 16 oz Dairy Queen cups as I remember it) what a heavy head after THAT. Yep, that was SOME time."
Many more memories are packed into stompin76.com along with many pictures.
One of the most amazing aspects of the event was the incredibly low price. For a mere $12.00, festival attendees from more than 20 states camped and watched on one stage:
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Doc & Merle Watson
New Grass Revival
Red White and Bluegrass
Nashville Bluegrass Band
Papa John Creach
Eric Weisberg and Deliverance
Star Spangled Washboard Band
Grass On The Rocks
Good Ol' Boys
Joe and Bing
"The price, and pervasive and widespread promotion worked too well" said Abramson.
Over 100,000 attended and more were turned away as the interstate clogged with latecomers. A Sikorsky helicopter air-lifted a woman out who had just birthed a boy she aptly named Stompin. Young festival attendees camped out on neighbor's lawns who sold them food, ice, beverages and rides up and down state road 58. The throngs cooled off in the New River which surrounded the natural amphitheater. A gentle rain fell for a few hours on Saturday evening, August 7, 1976.
The Pagans were recruited for security as CES from Baltimore tried to extort Abramson fro more money to do a job they had agreed to and then claimed they were just hired to protect the backstage. Abramson's personal security was threatened, so he paid Earl Scruggs his balance in cash out of the truck of a car. Earl walked over, lifted the trunk, reached in, hugged me and said "bless you my son", took the cash and closed the trunk.
The event caused Carroll County to create new laws for outdoor gatherings and to this day, the Galax Fiddler's Convention and local newspaper refuse to admit that their event's huge surge in 1977 was directly due to the epic event from 1976. The Fiddler's Convention moved to the Stompin weekend in 1977 and has resided there ever since benefiting the town and county for decades now.
Hal Abramson later became a promoter for Ringling Bros. Circus and the Ice Follies, worked as a stagehand in Las Vegas, where he also served as a Promotions Director for 4 downtown casinos. In the 80's he was the driving force behind what became, the largest resort major marketing company in the east; Vacation Break USA in Ft. Lauderdale.
In 2000 Abramson authored a comprehensive manual on promoting concerts and music festivals which is sold to promoters worldwide at concert-promotions.com. Abramson is a festival consultant, promotes his own events and is contracted to work on others' major music festivals.
"I'm not the only one with dreams of making a great music festival. Whether mine or someone else's, I lead a special life knowing that everyday is a festival day. The main thing is to keep on Stompin!"
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About Hal Abramson: A resident of Maryland, Hal is a life-long promoter, event producer, consultant and author. His websites are concert-promotions.com, stompin76.com and rentapromoter.com