Frostburg State University’s much-anticipated Appalachian Festival will return for its 11th year from Thursday, Sept. 15, to Saturday, Sept. 17. The free, family-friendly event brings together artists and craftspeople to celebrate all that makes the region unique – its history, culture, music, food and more – with performances, workshops, displays, discussions and activities.
This year focuses on “Appalachia: Obstacles and Opportunities” featuring stories of Appalachian residents using their ingenuity and expertise to overcome daunting challenges to create a strong sense of community and place.
Exploration of the topic will begin Thursday with the film “After Coal” at 7 p.m. at the Palace Theatre at 31 E. Main St. in Frostburg. “After Coal” profiles inspiring individuals who must abandon traditional livelihoods and build a new future in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky and South Wales. Meet ex-miners using theatre to rebuild community infrastructure, women transforming a former coal board office into an education hub and young people striving to stay in their home communities.
The theme of overcoming challenges continues Friday on FSU’s Upper Quad with the Appalachian Symposium, beginning at 1 p.m. with a powerful presentation by John Temple, journalist and author of “American Pain,” which investigates how opioid addiction became such a daunting challenge for the region. Following his presentation, health department staff from Allegany and Garrett counties will detail the growing heroin crisis affecting local communities. From there, the symposium will shift to focus on new opportunities in Appalachia, including an emergent medical cannabis industry, regenerative farming and a movement to combat the “brain drain” in the region. The last event of the day at 7:15 p.m. is dinner on the grounds and evening entertainment with Dr. Doug Hendren, a retired orthopedic surgeon in Virginia who writes songs and blogs about the broken political and economic systems.
On Saturday, the Session/Jam Tent returns again this year from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the Upper Quad. Musicians of all levels will have a place to gather and play their instruments to the tune of Appalachian genres, including bluegrass, mountain music mix, Celtic and old-time.
Throughout the day, two stages will host 21 musical groups from across the region. The Frostburg Arion Band will perform in the center circle on the Upper Quad. Blue Hill Bluegrass, Dearest Home, Highland Grass, Allegheny Drifters, Davis Bradley Band, Barnstormers and RockCandy Cloggers, Lickety Split Banjo Boys, Old Pitch and Black Diamond Bluegrass will perform on the Compton stage. On the Sowers stage, On the Run, New Creek Station, Time Travelers, Rachel Eddy, Sam and Joe Herrmann, Sparkey and Rhonda Rucker, Loretta Hummel and Robert Broadwater, Twang, Pete Hobbie and Jim Morris, Jay Smar, and Cory and Heather Wharton will appear.
Those interested in stories and music should check out Storytelling from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m. in Cook Chapel. Accomplished storytellers Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, Thomas Burnett, Katie and Otto Ross, Stas’ Ziolkowski and Suzi Whaples will enchant the audience with stories and lore inspired by their Appalachian upbringings. Then at 3:30 p.m., join Hendren, Michael and Carrie Kline, and Ray Owen as they lead in singing Songs for Change, with a focus on renewing the world for the children.
Throughout the day, attendees can check out the Explorations Tent. Topics include resurrecting the American chestnut; Scales to Tales, an educational program using non-releasable birds of prey and reptiles; local fracking bans and the status of Maryland’s moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing; saving the Jane Gates house, a home that was so important to early African-American Cumberland; Engage Mountain Maryland, which is dedicated to mindful growth of the area; and growing the economy with the Great Allegheny Passage. In the Folkways Tent, festival goers can also learn how to play the dulcimer and clog as well as learn about early American folk songs and the folk tradition surrounding the African-American experience.
In addition to plenty of food and entertainment for all ages, the festival will provide activities and programming specifically for children, who can paint goat-shaped silhouettes at the Capering Kids 4-H Goat Club display; make traditional Appalachian toys at Hands-on Art; join in sing-alongs with multi-instrumentalist Ray Owen; join the Sunnyland Band and play along on spoons, jugs, washboards and all kinds of instruments from other countries; and enjoy an interactive performance by Grammy winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer.
A variety of artisans are also featured throughout the festival, offering tatting, pottery, mountain dulcimers, jewelry, knitting, baskets, stained glass, portrait art, nature photography, decorative gourds, fiber arts, woodworking, hooked rugs, quilts, pewter, beeswax items and natural personal and home care products. Also on the grounds are the American Chestnut Foundation, Western Maryland Chapter of the Archeological Society, Nature Conservancy, Home Ground, Engage Mountain Maryland, New Meadow Run Community, Wynter’s Haven, Frostburg Museum Association, Citizen Shale, Queen City Film Festival and Rebound Rob’s Rollin’ Records.
The capstone of the festival is the concert on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Palace Theatre. Three masterful ensembles will be featured, including the Grammy-winning duo Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer; The Barefoot Movement, which has been lauded as one of the best young bluegrass groups in the business; and Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, a mesmerizing group that excels equally at musicianship at dance. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for FSU students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
101 Braddock Road, Frostburg, MD, Frostburg
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