Popular music festival returns

Published 10:23 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A music festival is returning for another year of fun with friends and family, organized by a musical family with impressive credentials.

The 27th Annual Darden Family Festival will be held this Saturday at the Darden family farm, located on Harewood Road off U.S. Route 158, five miles east of Murfreesboro, N.C. Local bluegrass bands will perform along with the Darden family for a wholesome festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We don’t allow drinking, drugs, cursing, anything that’s offensive,” said Miriam Syme, known commonly by her famous stage name Suzi Arden. “It’s a marvelous festival.”


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Performers will keep the music going for the whole day. The lineup includes Loria Williams, Dymond City, The Second Chapter, Joy Makers, Liberty Grass, and Nancy Joyner and Early Station.

Barbecue, hot dogs and more will be served. There will be $12 reservations for RV hookups.

The event draws local talent, plus friends and family for some long overdue reunions.

“I enjoy seeing people that we haven’t seen in a year or a couple of years,” said Cynthia Blakeslee, Syme’s niece and one of the Darden family performers.

Donations are encouraged, but there is otherwise no admission cost, according to Syme.

“We’re in need of this kind of family entertainment, where children won’t have to see anything unkind,” she said.

The 86-year-old was born Miriam Darden and grew up with five siblings in a musical family in Portsmouth, starting at a radio station. Miriam took up the violin when she was 5 or 6 years old, because violin was the instrument the family lacked.

She adopted the stage name Suzi Arden as she got older and continued performing at numerous venues. She worked with country greats while traveling, and she still has letters from Patsy Cline.

“Patsy was my dearest friend,” she said.

She organized her own group, “The Suzi Arden Show,” in 1959. Her group toured across the country before becoming one of the most popular shows in Las Vegas. It was the longest running show in the city’s history when the group retired in 1970.

The Darden family will bring that talent and gusto to the stage this Saturday for friends, family and everyone else that enjoys quality music.

“It’s so sweet and loving,” Syme said. “It’s a loving festival.”

Call 297-6113 for more information.