CHARLESTON, W.Va. — This year’s Appalachian String Band Music Festival, featuring some of the best fiddlers and banjo pickers in the world, is set for Aug. 2-6, 2017. The five-day camping experience in the heart of West Virginia also includes music contests, dancing, arts and crafts and games for the whole family.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s 28th annual music festival will be held at Camp Washington-Carver in Clifftop, Fayette County. The popular annual festival draws thousands of string-band musicians and fans from across the country and around the world for its concerts, dancing, workshops and contests in which musicians and dancers can win prizes of up to $700.
More than 25 arts, craft and music vendors will be on site along with food vendors, and fresh produce will be for sale.
Brian Christianson, who won the Robert C. Byrd award for traditional fiddle playing at the Grand Master Fiddler Championship last year in Nashville, Tenn., will be a featured performer. On Saturday, Aug. 5, Christianson will teach an afternoon master’s workshop. He is a multi-instrumentalist and plays fiddle for The Mike Snider String Band on the Grand Ole Opry. He owns the Fiddle House in East Nashville.
Christianson joins grand masters Ken Perlman of Boston, Mass. and Rafe Stefanini of Elkins Park, Pa., who also will be featured in showcase workshops/performances at the festival.
Contests include fiddle and banjo on Thursday, Aug. 3, neo-traditional band on Friday, Aug. 4, and traditional band and flatfoot dance on Saturday, Aug. 5. Senior (60 and over) and youth (15 and under) categories are available in the fiddle and banjo contests. A youth award is available in both the band contests for groups with all members 18 years old or younger. The neo-traditional band contest also provides an award for best original song and tune. The flatfoot dance contest makes awards in four age categories.
Throughout the week, festival-goers can step onto the dance floor to learn flatfoot dancing and square dancing. Nightly square dances in the historic Great Chestnut Lodge from Wednesday through Saturday and outdoor concerts on Friday and Saturday evening are popular attractions. Highlights for children and families include arts and crafts, basket making, daily yoga sessions, bingo, family films, Three Rivers Avian Center Demonstration and more.
Daily admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors (age 60 and over) and youth (age 6 – 17). Children five and under get in free. Rough camping for the five-day festival is available on a first-come, first-served basis for $45 for adults, $40 for seniors and youth, $90 per family (two adults and any number of children under the age of 18) and $80 per senior family (two adults 60 years old or more and any number of children under the age of 18). Early camping starts July 28 at 1 p.m., and additional fees apply. The rough-camping rate and daily admission fee include admission to all activities.
A beautiful retreat listed in the National Register of Historic Places and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Camp Washington-Carver serves as the state’s mountain cultural arts center. The facility nurtures the cultural heritage embodied in the site since its dedication in 1942 as a 4-H and agricultural extension camp for West Virginia’s African Americans. The camp is located in Fayette County next to Babcock State Park, just off Route 60 (Midland Trail) on Route 41 south.
For more information about the Appalachian String Band Music Festival or a complete schedule of events, visit the division’s website at www.wvculture.org/stringband/index.html or call Camp Washington-Carver at (304) 438-3005.
The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, cabinet secretary. It brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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