Skip to main content

Berea Sound Archives - Folk and Music Festivals

The Berea Sound Archives collections document audio recordings of folk and music festivals directed at celebrating and preserving traditional vernacular American culture. They also promote newer tradition-based forms, such as Bluegrass, newgrass, and cont

Folk & Music Festivals

The Berea Sound Archives collections document audio recordings of folk and music festivals directed at celebrating and preserving traditional vernacular American culture. They also promote newer tradition-based forms, such as Bluegrass, newgrass, and contemporary folk music.

While documenting folk music and culture through festivals, contests, and gatherings in the United States has been commonplace since the early 20th-century, documenting the festivals themselves has been less so. Prior to the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s, most festival documentation consists of printed programs, news reports, and occasional photographs.

For the purposes of this guide, festivals are placed in three categories: Appalachian-region festivals, Urban/National based festivals, and regional folk festivals. Appalachian based festivals include several from Kentucky, Southern Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. Other regions of the country represented include New York State, New England, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, and Utah.  National and urban festivals are included from Washington DC,  Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Diego.

While some of the festival recordings in Berea's holdings are non-commercial in origin, a good number of them originate from National Public Radio's "Folk Festival, U.S.A." program as broadcast through the WYSO affiliate in Yellow Springs, OH and collected in the Reuben Powell Collection, SAA 62. For copyright reasons these are not available online, but can be heard in-house at the Berea College Special Collections & Archives.