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Folk & Music Festivals in the Berea Sound Archives: Appalachian Region Folk 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, n
From 2005-2016, the Sound Archives Fellowship program supported both the scholarly use of Berea's non-commercial audio / video collections and the conducting of cultural documentation projects that produced new material for future research use.
Founded in 1932 by Jean Thomas, "The Traipsin' Woman", in Boyd County, KY outside of Ashland. By 1938 it attracted over 20,000 people and had become more pageant than a festival. Thomas personally ran the event until her retirement in 1972. (Berea Sound Archives) Additional performances are available in the Lomax Kentucky Collection.
Appalachian Festival - Cincinnati, OH
The Appalachian Festival began in 1970 as a project of the Junior League of Cincinnati. Since 1975 it has been produced by the Appalachian Community Development Association (ACDA) and has grown to be one of the largest urban-based Appalachian festivals in the United States. (For copyright reasons these are not available online, but can be heard in the Department of Special Collections & Archives at Berea College’s Hutchins Library.)
Founded by writer, educator, and activist Don West, a series of concerts and workshops promoting the traditional mountain folk music and crafts of Appalachia, and highlights the transfer of traditions to younger generations. (Performances referenced here are from 1979)
The Celebration of Traditional Music (CTM) began in 1974 as an outward manifestation of the Berea College Appalachian Center's traditional music committee. The CTM continues part of the Appalachian Center’s overall mission of encouraging and coordinating many of the Berea College’s special Appalachian programs, involving students and faculty, serving the region, and documenting the region’s culture. (Berea Sound Archives)
Held at the Carter Family Fold since 1975, this festival was originally a memorial to A.P. Carter. The 1977 festival marked the 50th Anniversary of the Carter Family's historic 1927 recording session at Bristol, TN, considered by many to be the "Big Bang of Country Music." (Digital Archives Berea College)
The festival began as a Fraley family reunion in the early 1970s but soon grew to encompass an extensive extended musical family. Now called the "Fraley Festival of Traditional Music," it is held every year at Carter Caves State Resort Park. (Berea Sound Archives)
Indian Springs Bluegrass Festival - Hagerstown, MD
From 1972 through 1980, Bluegrass Unlimited magazine produced 17 major bluegrass festivals at a campground near Hagerstown, Maryland. The Indian Springs Bluegrass Festival is remembered for several “firsts.” These include Bill Clifton’s first U.S. appearance after several years abroad, and the only festival appearance by Clarence White before his untimely death. (For copyright reasons these are not available online, but can be heard in the Department of Special Collections & Archives at Berea College’s Hutchins Library.)
John Henry Folk Festival - Kanawha Co., WV
Organized in the 1960s by African American musician, schoolteacher, and folklorist Ed Cabbell. (For copyright reasons these are not available online, but can be heard in the Department of Special Collections & Archives at Berea College’s Hutchins Library.)
For 13 years, in the late 1970s through the 1980s, the McLain Family Band hosted the internationally recognized annual McLain Family Festival showcasing family bands from the US and abroad. The 1st festival was at Renfro Valley, with the remaining years held at the McLain's Big Hill farm near Berea, KY. (For copyright reasons additional performances are not available online, but can be heard in the Department of Special Collections & Archives at Berea College’s Hutchins Library.)
Bascom Lamar Lunsford founded the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in 1928 as a means for people to share and understand the beauty and dignity of Southern Appalachian music and dance traditions. It continues to be the oldest gathering of its kind in the United States. (For copyright reasons additional performances are not available online, but can be heard in the Department of Special Collections & Archives at Berea College’s Hutchins Library.)
Nancy and Harvey McClellan started this festival in the early 1970s with some encouragement from members of the Ashland (KY) Community College. The festival also filled a void left by Jean Thomas' recently defunct American Folk Song Festival. After several different locations at state parks in Carter County, KY, the festival ceased operation in the mid-1970s. (Berea Sound Archives)
Short for 'Ohioans from Kentucky,' O'Tucks was founded in 1959 at Hamilton, OH by Kentucky-born educator Stanley Dezarn after he moved there. Originally an annual homecoming picnic for Kentucky migrants, it grew into a celebration of Appalachian heritage. The organization still sponsors an annual banquet and funds scholarships at nearby Miami University. (Berea Sound Archives)
Since 1950, the West Virginia State Folk Festival has focused on old-time music, traditional square dancing, and Appalachian arts and crafts. The West Virginia State Folk Festival was initiated in 1950 by Dr. Patrick Gainer "to preserve the remnants of West Virginia traditional life and culture to the end that citizens may appreciate and respect the achievements of their forbearers." (Berea Sound Archives)