Sixth Annual Event Features Music, Film, Presentations, Crafts, Food and Family Fun
The public is invited to experience and learn more about the Appalachian region’s rich cultural heritage during Frostburg State University’s 2011 Appalachian Festival on Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17. Now in its sixth year, the much-anticipated free event brings together performers and craftspeople to celebrate the history, music, artistic offerings and food of Western Maryland and the surrounding areas. The renowned Irish band, Buffalo in the Castle, will perform at the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Frostburg during the Saturday evening capstone concert that culminates the weekend of family fun.
The festival will kick off Friday at 2 p.m. on the Upper Quad at FSU with “Building Sustainable Communities Through Community Engagement and Activism,” an informative symposium focusing on contemporary conflicts created by surface mining and natural gas drilling. The event will feature speakers from the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation and CitizenShale, as well as a musical performance by Jay Smar. Participants will demonstrate how regional residents are coming together to ensure that their communities emphasize long-term cultural and environmental sustainability over short-term profit.
Following the symposium, an Appalachian Film Festival featuring the “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” will cap off Friday’s activities at 7:30 p.m. in Frostburg’s Palace Theatre. The legendary family is as well-known for their wild, excessive criminal ways as they are for their famous mountain-dancing members, including Jesco White, the star of the cult classic documentary, “Dancing Outlaw.” Exploring the comic and tragic sides of life on the other side of the law, this stylish, fast-paced family portrait exposes the powerful forces of corruption, poverty and West Virginia’s environmentally and culturally devastating coal-mining culture that helped shape the White family, a dying breed of outlaws preserving a dying form of dance. After the film, Jacob Young, the director of “Dancing Outlaw,” will moderate a critical discussion.
Saturday activities begin with the Frostburg Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Church in Frostburg. Then, starting at 10 a.m., check out the daylong presentations, workshops, arts and crafts demonstrations, live music, Appalachian dance, environmental talks and various children’s activities on FSU’s Upper Quad. Two stages will feature music highlighting the area’s strong bluegrass, old-time, Irish and Scottish music traditions. Performers will include the Garrett Highlands Pipe & Drums, Mountain Therapy, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, the Sugar Foot Stompers, the Blue Shades, the Barnstormers and the RockCandy Cloggers, the Lickety Split Banjo Boys and Bear Hill Bluegrass on the Compton stage, as well as the Frostburg Arion Band, Jason Twigg and Fritz Kessler, Loretta Hummel & Friends, Twang!, Jeff Thomas and Andi Hearn, Ken Kolodner, Michael and Carrie Kline, Jeffrey Scott, Amy Fabbri and Amanda Barger, the Time Travelers, Ed and Kathleen Myers, and the Ruckers on the Sowers stage.
In addition to the music, there will be a singing workshop, storytellers, dance demonstrations, an overview of fiddling traditions and the early banjo, and a reading and book signing with local author Rory Shane Riggs. There will also be talks on medicinal roots, mountaintop removal, Marcellus Shale and eminent domain, and the Cherokee Trail of Tears, as well as Scales to Tales, an up-close view of the region’s wildlife. At 2 p.m., members of Buffalo in the Castle will present “Foreign Sounds Rendered Familiar” in which they will explore the historic and dynamic connections between American old-time music and traditional music.
Children will have their own hands-on area of crafts and activities to keep them entertained, including Horn’s Punch and Judy Show.
Artists and artisans will exhibit lace, baskets, portrait art, nature photography, woodcrafts, pottery, coverlets, braided rugs, herbal products, jewelry, stained glass, fiber arts, stuffed animals and chair bottoming.
Other groups, such as the Western Maryland Chapter of the Archeological Society, Western Maryland Adventures and The Nature Conservancy, will also have booths.
The festival will culminate with the 8 p.m. Saturday night performance of Buffalo in the Castle. Button accordion master Mairtin O’Connor and Desi Wilkinson, one of Ireland’s leading exponents of the traditional Irish flute, provide the group’s anchors for Irish traditional music, while Frank Hall, a top-notch fiddler and clogger, and clawhammer banjo player Lena Ullman supply a hearty serving of American old-time music. Though several American groups have recently examined connections between bluegrass and Irish music, the efforts of Buffalo in the Castle stand unique. While the band’s focus is largely instrumental, they pepper their performance with several songs, taking great pleasure in the American old-time tradition that seamlessly combines and alternates between vocals and instrumentals. Tickets are available at Mountain City Traditional Arts and Main Street Books in Frostburg. Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door; tickets for students and those 17 and under are $8.
To learn more about the FSU Appalachian Festival, visit www.frostburg.edu/events/afestival, look for it on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FSU Appalachian Festival is supported in part with funding from WFWM, the event’s official media sponsor, the Maryland Traditions Program of the Maryland State Arts Council, the FSU Foundation, Culture Ireland, the Allegany Arts Council, the Sierra Student Coalition, Learning Green Living Green and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity.
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.