Sam Bush at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 2000.

(Photo: Courtesy of Benko Photographics)

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, organized by Lyons-based Planet Bluegrass, received the “Music Festival of the Year” honor at the Pollstar Concert Industry Awards at Nashville’s famous Ryman Auditorium Saturday night.

The Pollstar Concert Industry Awards, managed by the music trade publication Pollstar, is an annual event that celebrates the world of live music.

Planet Bluegrass’ win Saturday marked the first time in the ceremony’s 26-year history that either a bluegrass or Colorado music festival won in this category.

After announcing the winner, comedian Ralphie May shouted, “I love bluegrass! I love Telluride!”

Planet Bluegrass president Craig Ferguson accepting the Pollstar award for "Best Music Festival of the Year."

(Photo: Courtesy of Planet Bluegrass)

In his acceptance speech, Planet Bluegrass president Craig Ferguson said:  

"A while back, someone called me and said that the Telluride Bluegrass Festival had been nominated for Pollstar Music Festival of the Year. I, of course said, 'who the hell is this?’ It’s such an honor to be recognized by the industry for what we do.”

Nominees for the Pollstar Awards are selected by international industry professionals. Pollstar readers than vote to select the winners in each category.

"This award recognizes the community spirit of Telluride Bluegrass -- from the artists, to the crew, to the volunteers, to the thousands of Festivarians -- who have come together to create festival magic every Summer Solstice weekend for the past 41 years,” Planet Bluegrass spokesperson Brian Eyster said.

Other nominees in the category included Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan, Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival near Ozarka, Arkansas.

Over the past 41 years the festival has played host to artists as diverse as Colorado-based bluegrass pickers Hot Rize, former Led Zepplin front man Robert Plant, banjo maestro Bela Fleck and mandolinist Sam Bush (and their former band New Grass Revival), Peter Rowan, Elvis Costello, Allison Krauss, the Dixie Chicks, Jerry Douglas, Emmylou Harris and many others.

The 42nd annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival returns to the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado June 18 to 21.