On Friday, May 24th, 2019 a special wedding took place – which was the kickoff to the Chantilly Farm Bluegrass & BBQ Festival held on Memorial Day weekend. It’s truly a “bluegrass love story.”
In 2018, two long-time supporters of the festival, Grace Butler and Jamie Hart, shared one of the most special moments of their lives with festival fans when Jamie surprised Grace with an onstage marriage proposal during one of Junior Sisk’s festival sets.
They met through Grace’s hairdresser (as many good Southerners do, right?) The matchmaker stylist saw an opportunity for love based on the relationship status and interests of both. “Bluegrass had to be something that she liked or it wouldn’t work,” said Jamie. “Balsam Range was her first bluegrass concert, then we saw Lonesome River Band and Junior Sisk at the Chantilly Farm Fest. She realized I was hanging around with some pretty good people.”
Later that fall, Jamie entered and won a Halloween costume contest dressed as a dog carrying a banjo in a salute to veterans. The costume became such a talking point that Hart decided to name the disguise, “Hillbilly Hound,” and soon began attending events in costume. The problem was, Jamie couldn’t see very well with the costume on, so he enlisted the help of his new friend Grace to lead him around during events, as his “seeing eye person.” This closeness no doubt solidified the couple’s friendship.
It wasn’t long before Hart decided that this was the girl he wanted to marry, however he knew that he wanted the proposal to be special. After discussing his idea with good friend, Jamie Harper, who was playing with Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice, the two decided on the perfect way for Jamie to propose.
“When Jamie reached out and asked if I would help him out with surprising Grace on stage, I was honored,” said Junior Sisk. “This is just another example of how close our fans are in the bluegrass community and it’s not every day that you get to be part of such a special moment in someone’s life.”
Hart decided that the place and time of the proposal should be the 2018 Chantilly Farm Bluegrass & BBQ Festival in Floyd, VA, a festival that he and Grace had enjoyed attending so much. With the help of Junior Sisk and his band, Jamie asked for Grace’s hand in marriage in front of a crowd of adoring fans during one of Junior Sisk’s evening sets.
“It was definitely a surprise and a moment I will never forget,” said Grace. “So we decided that we would invite our family and friends and get married on stage at the 2019 festival. We saw how so many had connected with the proposal moment and wanted to be a part of the wedding festivities.”
Jamie and Grace hosted their wedding as a kickoff to the 9th Annual Chantilly Farm Bluegrass & BBQ Festival at 11am on Friday, May. 24. Fans who purchased festival tickets were invited to attend before the regular festival programming began at noon that day.
The couple were married by Bob Barnes, who co-emceed this year’s festival alongside Sherry Boyd. Junior Sisk, as well as fellow bluegrass musicians Tony and Heather Mabe, were also part of the ceremony.