In 1948 Cleo Lemons heard on the radio that Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs had left Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys to form their own band. Upon hearing this news Cleo wrote a letter to Lester Flatt to see if they would agree to come to Sandy Ridge School and play a bluegrass show that would be sponsored by the American Legion. In a few days, Cleo received a response and the very first bluegrass show at Sandy Ridge School was scheduled.
That first evening Cleo met Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Mac Wiseman, Jim Shumate and Howard Watts in a 1937 Ford two-door with bass on top and instruments along with sound equipment in the back. This would mark the beginning of one of the longest running annual bluegrass shows in history.
Flatt and Scruggs continued to appear at Sandy Ridge School until their breakup in 1969. Flatt and Scruggs broke up the Saturday night before the Sandy Ridge Show would have been played on March 7th. The Osborne Brothers agreed to play the show in their place. After this, Lester Flatt continued to do the show for many years. The Osborne Brothers became annual performers at the show along with others including The Lewis Family, Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys, and more.
In the 60 plus years this concert has been held, there is just too much history that has taken place to be included in a few short paragraphs. One interesting fact relayed to Doug Hutchens by Earl Scruggs is that “Flatt and Scruggs played this show more times than any other one place except for the Grand Ole Opry.”