Fayette County festival favorite returns


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.

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

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History’s 29th annual 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 up to $700.

More than 25 arts, craft, and music vendors will be on site along with food vendors and fresh produce for sale.

Grand masters Jim Costa of Talcott; James Leva of Lexington, Va.; and Earl White of Willis, Va. will be featured in showcase workshops/performances at the festival.

Contests include fiddle and banjo on Thursday, Aug. 2, neo-traditional band on Friday, Aug. 3 and traditional band and flatfoot dance on Saturday, Aug. 4.

Senior (60 and over) and youth (15 and under) categories are available in the fiddle and banjo contests. A youth award is available in the band contests for groups with all members 18 years old or younger. The neo-traditional band contest also provides an award for best original song and tune. The flatfoot dance contest makes awards in four age categories.

Throughout the week, festival-goers can step onto the dance floor to learn flatfoot dancing and square dancing. 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, basket making, daily yoga sessions, family films, and more.

Daily admission to the festival is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors (age 60 and over) and youth (age 6-17). Children 5 and under get in free. Rough camping for the five-day festival will be available on a first come, first serve basis at $50 for adults, seniors and youth, $150 per family (two adults and any number of children under the age of 18), and $135 per senior family (two adults 60 years old or more and any number of children under the age of 18). Early camping starts July 27 at 1 p.m. and additional fees apply. The rough camping rate and daily admission fee include admission to all activities.

A beautiful retreat listed in the National Register of Historic Places and operated by the West Virginia Department of Arts, 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 department’s website at www.wvculture.org/stringband/index.html or call Camp Washington-Carver at (304) 438-3005.