Groovekids kick off weeklong music festival, Cedar City mayor emcees

CEDAR CITY – Monday is the first official day of the Groovefest Music and Art Festival featuring seven glorious music filled days that celebrate, not just the roots of American music, but art in all of its various forms. Kicking off the week’s festivities, the Groovekids will “rock your socks off” at the Heritage Center Theater.

This year’s lineup features a number of incredibly talented youth from all over Southern Utah, Groovekids producer Marty Warburton said. Since this is the third year Groovekids has been part of the weeklong festivities, the kids have been lining up in the hopes of gaining a slot to entertain the masses.

“We’ve had a lot of response from the local kids,” he said. “And not just in Cedar City, but as far away as Salt Lake and St. George; and the words getting out that it’s becoming a really great event for the kids in Southern Utah.”

Since the beginning of Groovefest, festival creators Tim and Lisa Crestinger have worked hard to add one new element to the schedule each year – taking the festival from a parking lot barbeque in 2002 to a full-week of events. Groovekids was added in 2013, completing the full-week lineup.

“Groovekids was created so that the next generation of musicians could gain experience in front of an audience on stage with professional sound equipment in a professional setting,” Lisa Cretsinger said. “So they will have a really great memory of being a kid in the summertime in Cedar City with their families and taking part in a music festival of this caliber.”

This year, the Groovekids event will feature a musical petting zoo were children of all ages can touch, play with and maybe even fall in love with, an instrument they may never have otherwise been exposed to, Warburton said.

The Groovekids will also have the honor of performing on the Heritage Center Theater stage, 105 N. 100 East, in Cedar City. The venue adds another level of class to the Groovekids show, Warburton said, something he has been aiming for since he took on the production.

“What I really wanted to do was give the kids a legitimate experience performing in a theater on a stage,” he said. “So it’s a legitimate performance; a legitimate concert.”

Despite her intensely busy schedule, Warburton said, Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson has agreed to be the master of ceremonies for the event – something which he said he feels really raised the caliber of the event a couple of notches.

“It is something we really appreciate, because I know how busy her schedule is and she would probably rather be relaxing at home on a Monday night, but she will be there,” he said. “It’s just another thing that raises that caliber for these young performers.”

The kid to watch for this year is a young man by the name of Sammy Brue from Ogden, Warburton said. Brue performed at Groovekids last year, and has found his way to the main stage for the big Groovefest in the Park event.

At only 14 years of age, he is easily one of the most accomplished guitarists Warburton said he has ever heard. This is an example of the level of talent patrons should expect to see Monday night at Groovekids, he said.

“He’s like the next coming of Woody Gurthrie,” Warburton said. “He’s a sensation – this one kid with a guitar who plays the harmonica and writes his own songs.”

The Groovefest experience, including Groovekids, is a fantastic gift to the community, Warburton said, one the community has embraced thanks to the love and dedication of two people – Tim and Lisa Cretsinger.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for the Musical Petting Zoo, and the Groovekids performance begins at 7 p.m. in the Heritage Center Theater. Entry is free and open to the public.

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