ELKINS - Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College is celebrating the conclusion of its season Saturday, August 12 on a high note with the annual Augusta Festival in Elkins City Park, the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest and the return of Mountain Stage with Larry Groce.
The Augusta Festival in tree-shaded Elkins City Park runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Festivities include a juried craft fair featuring the best regional artisans, live music on the main stage, workshops, the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest, craft demonstrations, jam sessions and children’s activities. The family-friendly event is free and is open to the public, rain or shine.
The West Virginia Highlanders of Davis & Elkins College will kick off the festival at 10 a.m, with performances to follow throughout the day from Emily Miller and Jesse Milnes, John Lilly, Penny Anderson, John Harrod and many others. Workshops will be offered in beginning clogging, highland dance and singing, the kid’s tent will be hopping with activities and jam sessions will be scattered throughout the park. Children’s activities include mural painting, mask making and several other projects.
Stage schedules are:
“The Augusta Festival is a big, beautiful party that we throw each year to celebrate the conclusion of our season,” said Becky Hill, events coordinator for Augusta Heritage Center. “We hope that people of all ages come out to peruse the juried craft fair, compete in the contests, jam underneath a shaded tree and take in performances.”
New this year, the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest will be hosted as part of the Augusta Festival. Registration for the contest begins at 10 a.m. at the Shelter Stage and cash prizes will be awarded in banjo and fiddle. The contest starts at 11 a.m. and will run until all have competed. There is no registration fee to compete.
As an "open" contest, participants from any state or region are welcome to enter. Three prizes will be awarded in fiddle and banjo, as well as a best senior musician prize for age 60 and older, and a best youth musician prize for age 15 and younger. Awards are $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place. The contest is sponsored by The Delmonte Market, Big Timber Brewing and Smakula Fretted Instruments.
“We hope that adding the contest to our festival will attract participants and spectators from all over, and that it can be part of our annual celebration, carrying the tradition on for years to come,” Hill said.
The day concludes with the Augusta Festival Concert featuring Mountain Stage with Larry Groce at 7:30 p.m. in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. On the bill for the live performance are folk icon Tom Paxton and The Don Juans – the duo of Don Henry and Jon Vezner, bluegrass mainstay and Augusta instructor Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, guitar hero Bill Kirchen, folk duo Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer and an emerging roots group with ties to Elkins and the Augusta Workshops, The Early Mays. Heard weekly on NPR stations across the country, Mountain Stage is produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and is celebrating its 34th year on the air. The concert will be recorded live and broadcast at a later date on the internationally syndicated radio program.
“We are very happy to welcome Mountain Stage back to the Augusta Festival for the fourth year,” Hill said. “They have a great lineup of artists for the show – a wonderful mix of American roots music. The evening will be the perfect celebration to end our summer programming.”
Tickets are $25 for general admission and may be purchased online at www.augustaheritagecenter.org or by calling the Davis & Elkins College Box Office at 304-637-1255. Tickets will also be available at the door on the night of the show with pricing at $15 for students with ID. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets include admission to the after show square dance in the Augusta Dance Pavilion featuring music by Bob Smakula and Red Run with round-robin calling.
A D&E center of excellence for more than 40 years, the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College offers several week-long programs featuring instruction in many traditions of music, dance, craft and folklore. Concerts, dances, a summer festival and other heritage arts events are part of the Augusta experience. The Augusta Heritage Center is also home to significant collections of field recordings, oral histories, photographs, instruments and Appalachian art. For additional information, call the Augusta Heritage Center at 304-637-1209 or visit www.augustaheritagecenter.org.
Programs offered by the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College are presented with financial support from the WV Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts with approval from the WV Commission on the Arts.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.
Photo Caption: Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller are among musicians who will provide entertainment Saturday during the Augusta Festival in Elkins City Park. Live music will be performed on four stages from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Craft demonstrations and sales, children’s activities and food vendors will be set up throughout the park.