Annual Augusta Festival Draws Hundreds

Date Posted: 

Monday, August 14, 2017

THE INTER-MOUNTAIN - Hundreds of people took advantage of the unexpectedly pleasant weather Saturday to take in the sights and sounds of the annual Augusta Festival and Craft Fair at Elkins City Park.

While strolling through the park on Saturday afternoon, the attendees — many with their dogs in tow — could enjoy a juried craft fair, the annual West Virginia Open Fiddle & Banjo Contest, workshops or the wares of the many vendors at the event.

The park’s main pavilion stage featured a stream of talented musicians throughout the day, including the award-winning West Virginia songwriter and performer John Lilly, who played his own tunes, traditional songs and even a solo mandolin version of Rod Stewart’s “Gasoline Alley.”

Among the vendors was 80-year-old Jim Good, of Walton, who has been building dulcimers for 44 years.

A self-taught musician and craftsman, Good received the 2017 Vandalia Award during the annual Vandalia Gathering at the State Capitol this year. The Vandalia Award is the highest folk life award that is presented by the state of West Virginia.

Good, whose dulcimers have gained an international reputation, remembered the experience in 1973 that introduced him to the instrument.

“I was driving down the road, and I saw an old man sitting on a porch, playing a dulcimer,” Good said Saturday. “It was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.”

Good then became “kind of obsessed” with dulcimers and soon began building them himself.

“A friend helped me make my first one and I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said.

Good said he loves the Augusta Festival because it allows him to connect with people who love old-time music, and he also loves to meet youngsters who are seeing and hearing dulcimers for the first time.

“I’ve been coming to Augusta for years,” he said. “It’s a great event, it’s a tradition.”

Saturday evening featured the Augusta Festival Concert featuring Mountain Stage with Larry Groce at the Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. Folk legend Tom Paxton and The Don Juans, featuring Don Henry and Jon Vezner, headlined the show.

The Augusta Heritage Center Saturday Festival Dance commenced in the Augusta Dance Pavilion immediately after the Augusta Festival Concert. The square dance featured music by Red Run.

Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College ended its four-week summer session with Old-Time and Vocal Week, leading up to the Augusta Festival weekend. The festival began with a Kick-Off Square Dance at the August Dance Pavilion Friday night.