The public is invited to learn more about the region’s rich cultural heritage during Frostburg State University’s 2009 Appalachian Festival Sept. 18 and 19. Now in its fourth year, the much-anticipated event brings together a variety of performers and craftspeople to celebrate the natural landscape, history, food and musical and artistic offerings of Western Maryland and the surrounding areas. Folk music legend Jean Ritchie and Sons perform on stage at the Historic Palace Theatre in Frostburg during the popular Saturday evening concert that culminates the weekend of family fun.
The Festival kicks things off Friday, Sept. 18, with “Appalachia: People and Place,” an informative symposium highlighting a sampling of regional work in which FSU faculty and students are engaged from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Lane University Center on campus. Presentations span topics from Lonaconing history to the evaluation of bobcat populations in Western Maryland.
Following the symposium, Appalachia enthusiasts can drift down to the Mountain City Traditional Arts venue at 25 E. Main St. in downtown Frostburg for a clogging and flat-footing workshop from 5:30 to 7 p.m. featuring the RockCandy Cloggers, with music by Jason Twigg and Fritz Kessler. An Appalachian Film Festival featuring the Academy award-winning documentary “Harlan County, USA” caps off Friday’s festivities at 8 p.m. in Frostburg’s Palace Theatre.
Then on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., check out daylong presentations, workshops, arts and crafts demonstrations, live music, Appalachian dance environmental talks and various children’s activities on the FSU campus. These festivities, held on FSU’s Upper Quad, are free and open to the public and provide entertainment for all ages. Performers include Frostburg Arion Band, Jay Smar, Highland Grass, Abe Folmsbee, Rachel Eddy, Garrett Highlands Pipes and Drums and Allegheny Drifters, among many other talented artists. Various hands-on demonstrations, workshops and other activities will also be available.
Festival goers “can learn traditional basket weaving, try their hand at playing the mountain dulcimer, practice traditional Appalachian dance steps, or prepare for the fall fishing season by tying flies,” said FSU folklorist Kara Rogers Thomas, Festival founder and key organizer. “In addition to our always popular children’s hands-on area, we have several programs appealing to both children and adults featuring storytellers and the theatrical performance, ‘Witches, Britches, Rings and Things,’ by Front & Centre State Productions.”
Frostburg’s Appalachian Festival culminates with an 8 p.m. Saturday night performance at the Palace Theatre featuring Jean Ritchie and Sons, with an opening concert by Zane & Hugh Campbell and Friends. Brothers Zane and Hugh Campbell hail from Cecil County, Md., at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. They are the nephews of legendary old-time/bluegrass singer and songwriter Ola Belle Reed, and the grandsons of pioneering hillbilly recording artists, the Red Fox Chasers. The Campbell family migrated to Cecil County from the North Carolina Blue Ridge during the Great Depression and will perform songs from the family repertoire.
Ritchie was born into a large and musical family in the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky in 1922. The youngest of 14 children, she grew up in a farm home where singing was a natural as breathing. As a song collector, she began by setting down the 300 songs she learned growing up. In 1955 Ritchie wrote a book about her family called “Singing Family of the Cumberlands.” She became known as the “Mother of Folk Music.” Her album, “None But One,” was awarded the Rolling Stone Critics Award in 1977.
Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate and sample Appalachian culture, music and more. Tickets for Jean Ritchie and Sons are $17 for adults and $12 for young people under 17. Group rate tickets are also available. Tickets may be ordered by calling 301-687-3137 or 1-866-849-9237, or by visiting ces.frostburg.edu. For full Appalachian Festival program information visit http://www.frostburg.edu/events/afestival or call 301-687-3124. You can also find the Appalachian Festival on MySpace and on Facebook (Search “Frostburg State University Appalachian Festival.”)
FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, call 301-687-4102 or use a Voice Relay Operator at 1-800-735-2258.