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. 1-5, 2012. The five-day camping experience in the heart of West Virginia also includes contests, dancing, arts and crafts, and games for the whole family.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s 23rd Appalachian String Band Music Festival will be held at Camp Washington-Carver in Clifftop in 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.

Throughout the week, festival-goers can step onto the dance floor to learn flatfoot dancing, beginning square dancing and beginning square dance calling. 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, storytelling, bingo, making baskets and split-bottom woven stools, Allegheny Echoes’ Please Touch the Instruments, slow jams, Three Rivers Avian Center demonstrations, daily yoga sessions and more. Craft, food and instrument vendors will be set up on the grounds and in the Great Chestnut Lodge. In addition, there will be three masters showcases featuring prominent old-time musicians.

Music contests include banjo and fiddle on Thursday, Aug. 2, neo-traditional string band on Friday, Aug. 3, and traditional string band on Saturday, Aug. 4. The top five winners in each category will receive prizes ranging from $100 to $700 for bands, and $50 to $400 for fiddle and banjo. Senior (age 60 and over) and youth (age 15 and under) categories in fiddle and banjo also are available, with the top three winners in each category receiving awards. The festival also has a youth award in the neo-traditional and traditional string band categories. All members of youth bands must be 18 years old or younger to qualify.

In addition, the festival presents an old-time dance contest on Saturday, Aug. 4, that emphasizes the flatfoot style, and awards three prizes ranging from $25 to $75 in four age categories.
The neo-traditional band contest also will award ribbons for the best new original composition for both a tune and a song. The ribbons will be given based upon the composition’s mastery of the old-time aesthetic, artistic merit, originality and innovation. There also will be a New Music Open Mic program on Thursday, Aug. 2, hosted by the Red Hen String Band.

Daily admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors (age 60 and over) and youth (age 6 – 17). Children aged five and under may attend for 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). The rough camping rate and daily admission fee includes admission to all activities. Daily visitors are also welcome.

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 or call the Division at (304) 558-0220. Camp Washington-Carver can be reached at (304) 438-3005.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, 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 The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

– 30