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Next week’s family-style Vandalia Gathering celebrates the traditional arts

The 29th annual Vandalia Gathering is a FREE celebration of the traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts and food of West Virginia. The Cultural Center and State Capitol Complex grounds will play host to this expanding family-style gathering on Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29, 2005. The unique blending of ethnic and cultural heritage combines an atmosphere as comfortable as a family reunion with the excitement of a state fair.

The statewide folk festival, named for the proposed 14th colony, creates new memories for the thousands of visitors who flock from across the Mountain State and the entire country to celebrate traditions passed from generation to generation. In addition to offering a sampling of West Virginia’s traditional mountain culture by showcasing craftspeople and performers, the Vandalia Gathering pays tribute to the state’s ethnic heritage through a variety of exhibitions and programs.

The 2005 Vandalia Gathering gets under way at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 27, with the Vandalia Sampler concert featuring some of the state’s favorite performers in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center.

Activities on Saturday and Sunday include fiddle, banjo and lap dulcimer competitions, as well as the Liars Contest (honest!). A second contest stage includes competitions in flat pick guitar, mandolin and bluegrass banjo. Contests are open to West Virginia residents only. Registration for the music contests is from 11 a.m. to noon both days. Liars contest registration is Sunday at noon.

Singing, concerts and dancing ranging from ethnic and square dancing in the Great Hall of the Cultural Center to an outdoor open flatfoot-dancing stage are annual highlights. Spectators are encouraged to jump in and kick up their heels. The popular Old-Time for Young-Uns area on Saturday and Sunday features traditional hands-on fun and games for all ages!

For those who love the sounds of traditional music or would like to be introduced to it–Vandalia Gathering can fill the bill. Impromptu jam sessions spring up all over the grounds. At any moment, a shade tree becomes the site of a lively performance as strolling musicians stop to join in on a favorite old tune.

Gospel singing is featured in the State Theater on Saturday. A workshop for novices and accomplished singers alike fills the theater with heavenly sounds. In the Great Hall and the Art Gallery, the Quilts and Wall Hangings 2005 exhibition decorates the white marble walls in brilliant color and visual splendor with exquisite quilts representing the talents of West Virginia quiltmakers.

More than 50 West Virginia craftspeople will be demonstrating and selling their creations in the craft circle on the State Capitol Grounds. Potters, quilters, woodworkers, jewelers, instrument makers and a host of others round out the circle. Salsa, honey, and other food products also will be available. The food booths and craft circle are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

The festival sales booth will offer Vandalia Gathering T-shirts, hats, cups, seat cushions, pins and other memorabilia as well as compact discs and cassettes. Vandalia Gathering also features a unique sampling of traditional and ethnic foods. Try such favorites as roasted corn, hot dogs, hamburgers, beef BBQs, rib sandwiches, Greek specialities, German sausage sandwiches and much more.

A Saturday night concert in the State Theater will begin with an awards presentation for the day’s contests and quilt winners at 6 p.m. On Sunday at 5 p.m., the festival will wind down with the awards for the day’s contests and a final concert.

The Vandalia Gathering is a program of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. For more information about the festival, including a complete schedule of activities, visit the Division’s website at, or call (304) 558-0162.

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Department of Arts, Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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MEDIA NOTE: Publicity photos may be downloaded from the Division’s website at