Celebrating the rich Appalachian culture found in Western Maryland and the surrounding mountain region, Frostburg State University will host its first Appalachian Festival this fall. The festival will celebrate the region's finest artistic and musical traditions, explore long-standing Celtic and Appalachian connections and celebrate a rich mixture of ethnic heritage.
The festival will be Saturday, Sept. 23, supported by a series of events leading up to it. The day-long outdoor event will be capped off by an evening concert featuring the star-studded lineup of John Doyle, Liz Carroll, Bruce Molsky, and Dirk Powell.
Daytime festival activities include performances and workshops by area musicians representing the region’s traditional music encompassing old-time, bluegrass, gospel, shape-note singing, and more. Exhibitions and demonstrations of traditional arts such as braided and loom rug making, quilting, basketry, spinning, chair-caning, soap-making, pottery, woodworking and folk medicinal practices will run throughout the day. And those attendees who have worked up an appetite will be able to visit the festival’s local food vendors who will offer regional recipes reflecting the true ethnic diversity of this piece of Appalachia—from pizza rolls to sauerkraut.
Festival planners are seeking participation from traditional artists and performers who are keeping alive these musical and artistic forms. These art forms tend to be multi-generational, learned by word-of-mouth or example and are shared expressions of culture rooted to place or shared across distance and time. To learn more about participating, contact Dr. Kara Rogers Thomas, who leads the folklore and Appalachian studies efforts at FSU, at 301-687-3124.
The evening event brings to Western Maryland four of the world’s most talented traditional musicians. Separately, they are all geniuses of their instruments — exciting performers and composers who take the traditions of Irish music, Appalachian music and rural American music into daring, inventive new directions. Carroll and Doyle represent the best of traditional Irish music, while Molsky and Powell demonstrate the some of the finest American folk music.
Additional events will support the festival. On Friday, Sept. 22, the historic Frostburg Palace Theatre, in the heart of Frostburg's Main Street community, will present two feature-length documentaries focusing on Appalachian life, "Stranger With A Camera" and "Sludge." The documentaries will be followed by a formal discussion of the films' artistic and cultural merit among audience members, encouraging active viewing. As a bonus, the director of "Sludge" will attend and speak with audience members after the showing.
Other events being developed for the week preceding the festival include a community square dance or circle dance, additional Appalachian music performances, hands-on demonstrations and an early morning buckwheat pancake and maple syrup breakfast.
Festival collaborators include Frostburg State University and several university organizations and departments, including the Cultural Events Series, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the University Programming Council and the FSU folklore program. Additional collaborators include the Frostburg Palace Theatre, the Maryland State Arts Council Maryland Traditions program and the National Center for Traditional Arts. Festival planners are especially grateful for the grant support of the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. You may request accommodations through ADA Compliance Office at 301-687-4102, TDD 301-687-7955.