More than 26,500 bluegrass fans from 40 states and six countries -- Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and Uganda -- poured into Yellow Creek Park last week for the 16th annual ROMP bluegrass festival.

That's down about 1,000 from last year when Alison Krauss made her first appearance at the festival.

"I knew we would be down some, because Alison brings out a big crowd," Terry Woodward, chairman of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, which stages the festival, said Tuesday. "If we were only down 1,000, I'm pretty happy."

Carly Smith, marketing director for the Hall of Fame and ROMP, said the crowd was more balanced this year than in the past.

"We had the largest Thursday night crowd we've ever had," she said.

Rhonda Vincent, Trampled By Turtles and Billy Strings headlined that night.

"ROMP Fest is all about the experience, and that was so evident as I watched this year’s event unfold," Chris Joslin, the Hall of Fame's executive director, said in a news release about the festival. "Ticket holders often pick and choose which days to attend based on the lineup. But this year, we experienced large crowds every day of the festival."

Saturday night's crowd was the largest of the week with more than 9,500 people in the park.

That was down from around 12,000 last year when Krauss performed.

But that was a good thing, Smith said, because last year ROMP had to stop selling tickets in mid-afternoon on Saturday because parking spots were in short supply.

Smith said about 80 people took advantage of the simulcast of ROMP that the Hall of Fame offered in its Woodward Theatre.

"It was new this year," she said. "But we think it will grow. The people who went appreciated being out of the heat."

There was strong attendance at the museum all week, Smith said.

That was helped by free performances by Vincent, Del McCoury and Della Mae in the Hall of Fame's lobby on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Documentaries being shown in Woodward Theatre drew good crowds, Smith said, especially the one about Sam Bush.

"There are just so many things to do during the event and that keeps more people engaged throughout all four days," Joslin said in the release. "We are definitely in the sweet spot with regard to attendance creating a lot of momentum while maintaining the quality of the event.”

Smith said the Hall of Fame tried to balance the schedule with big names each night.

Having the crowd spread out over more nights "is good for the overall health of the festival," she said.

Woodward said, "Everything went smoothly. I didn't hear one negative comment."

He said, "I talked to a lot of people who said it was their first time at ROMP. The weather really helped us this year."

Woodward praised the festival's 200-plus volunteers.

"I heard a lot of good things about them," he said, "how helpful and friendly they were."

The lineup included Ricky Skaggs, McCoury, Patty Loveless, Bush, Steve Earle, The Wood Brothers, The Travelin’ McCourys, The Larry Keel Experience and Della Mae.

Smith said more than 2,300 people camped in four tent camping areas and 325 recreational vehicles were in the park last week.

She said the festival had 60 sponsors this year.

Next year's ROMP is scheduled for June 24-27, Smith said.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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