After years of attending one of the largest bluegrass festivals in the nation, our founder’s uncle found himself in a position unable to attend. Health issues arose preventing further festival going. He began the retelling of his wonderful memories to his nephew, Jeff Barnett. After painting enough pictures of a joyous time, filled with music, laughter, and community, Barnett’s uncle asked him to attend in his place. Upon his return home, Barnett devised a plan to bring a festival home to his uncle. Thus, began the one we all know and love today; Owl Creek Jamboree.

At its inception the festival was rather small, approximately fifty people were in attendance. An invitation only event, due to location, it was extremely private as well. A buzz developed, however, among festival goers, and soon people from other festivals became eager to get in on the mysterious Owl Creek (as it has become known in short). By the second festival the crowd had doubled, as well as the rain. That didn’t stop the party, however. From a radius of hundreds of miles people flocked to hear the sound of strings in the trees.

Once the festival had grown, and the previous years flooding caused land damage, Barnett knew he needed a new location. Somewhere accommodating, somewhere he could open it to the public, and a place that would benefit his local community. Chanute Elks Lake provided such a location. With the city limits just a few miles away, guests of the festival would have a short drive, to Humboldt or Chanute, allowing them to shop at local businesses. Owl Creek Jamboree, in its third year, became a public event. In 2020 it was decided to move the festival to the beautiful Humboldt, KS which is very exciting and we look forward to seeing what 2020 brings to the 7th annual Owl Creek Jamboree.

Beautiful campgrounds, shelter houses, and vendors now accommodate guests at the festival. Camping includes a site for musicians. This site contains a small sign up stage, originally the only stage. Main Stage action begins Thursday evening, and continues through Saturday evening.

From this brief history, it is easy to see the love Jeff has for his uncle. He has brought the joy of acoustic pickin’ back to a man who thought it was impossible. One of the truly remarkable aspects of Owl Creek Jamboree is its atmosphere. “Just picked up a string yesterday? No Problem!” Everyone is welcomed, loved, nurtured, and walks away from a weekend of learning new songs, styles, picking patterns, etc.. Our founder loves his strings, loves his friends, and has built a community on a little piece of S.E.K. to promote the musician in all of us.

Grab your favorite stringed instrument and we’ll see you there!


The History of Owl Creek Jamboree