May 12, 2010
The 34th annual Vandalia Gathering is a celebration of the traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts and food of West Virginia. The Culture Center and State Capitol Complex grounds will play host to this expanding family-style gathering on Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30, 2010. 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 three-day event is free, and all are welcome to join in the festivities.
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 2010 Vandalia Gathering gets under way at 7 p.m., on Friday, May 28, with an awards presentation for quilt and wall hanging winners and presentation of the Vandalia Award, the state’s highest folklife honor. A Vandalia Sampler concert follows the awards ceremony featuring some of the state’s favorite musicians in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Culture Center. Performers include Fox Hunt, Jerrica Hilbert, Mountain Echos, Matt Lindsay, Pete Kosky, Mike Morningstar, Robin and Dan Kessinger, and the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys.
As in years past, there will be special youth categories in the flat pick guitar, fiddle and lap dulcimer contests. Music contests on Saturday include old-time fiddle, bluegrass banjo and mandolin. The old-time banjo, lap dulcimer and flat-pick guitar, as well as the Liars Contest (honest!) comprise the Sunday contests. Contests are open to West Virginia residents only, and winners are announced at the conclusion of the contest instead of during the evening concerts. Registration for the music contests is from 11 a.m. to noon both days. Liars contest registration is Sunday from noon to 1 p.m.
There also will be competitions for best pound cake, homemade biscuits and homemade jam/preserves on Saturday. Registration is from 10 a.m., to 12:30 p.m., and the contest will take place on the Plaza Deck of the Culture Center at 1 p.m. The competition is open to West Virginia residents only. Awards will be made for first, second and third place as well as a youth award for children 15-years-old and under in the pound cake, biscuits and jam/preserves categories. Creativity is encouraged as the competition is not limited to traditional cooking techniques. The pound cakes, biscuits and jams/preserves will become the property of the festival and be given as prizes in the “Cake/biscuit/jam/preserves Walk” which will take place Saturday in the Great Hall of the Culture Center at 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome to participate.
Entries must be made from scratch, pre-mixes are not allowed. Judges will disqualify previously published recipes, such as those published in cookbooks, magazines, on food Web sites and winners in cooking contests, unless the recipe features significant changes. All recipes must be submitted on a three-inch by five-inch index card. The jams/preserves must be labeled with ingredients. The pound cakes must be submitted in a disposable loaf pan. Contestants must submit six biscuits in a disposable pan and the jam/preserves participants must submit two, one-half pint standard canning jars filled at least to the first rim.
Singing, concerts and dancing ranging from ethnic to traditional square dancing in the Great Hall of the Culture Center will take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., followed by the “Cake Walk,” and from noon - 5 p.m., on Sunday. The outdoor flatfoot and clogging dance stage will have bands and callers on hand from noon to 5 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday. Spectators are encouraged to jump in and kick up their heels.
The popular outdoor Old-Time-for-Young-’Uns area features traditional hands-on fun and games for all ages from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m., on Sunday. The WVU/Jackson’s Mill Center for Lifelong Learning and State 4-H Camp will have its farm wagon and docents dressed in 1800s-style clothing demonstrating candle making, shelling and grinding corn, woodworking, blacksmithing, domestic activities, folk toys and games, and more. Three Rivers Avian Center from Brooks, W.Va., also will be demonstrating on both days. The center is a West Virginia animal shelter for injured and endangered wild birds, raptor rehabilitation, and raptor environmental education programs. The presentation will include information about habitat and the role of raptors in the ecosystem, why there are laws protecting them and other wild birds, a discussion of the most common hazards they face daily, the work the center does to return threatened wild birds to their native habitats and a question and answer session.
Kids can enjoy art and craft activities such as making handkerchief dolls, quilt patterns, coloring and playing with wooden spin toys, on both days as well. In addition, the West Virginia Storytellers Guild will be at the Young-’Uns booth on Saturday. On Sunday, kids can learn to weave on cardboard looms.
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. There also will be a jam tent on the Plaza Deck of the Culture Center which will be manned by guest musicians who will play and invite the public to join them from 11 a.m. - 3:45 p.m., on Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., on Sunday.
The Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater will showcase the West Virginia Storytellers Guild on Saturday beginning at 12:30 p.m., as well as four groups of musicians in concert from 1:45 - 4:30 p.m. On Sunday, visitors in the theater can hear some of West Virginia’s best storytellers tell their tales beginning at noon, until the Liars Contest begins at 1 p.m. Gospel singing also is featured in the theater from 3:30 - 5 p.m. on Sunday. The gospel workshop led by West Virginia’s first lady of gospel, Ethel Caffie-Austin, is for novices and accomplished singers alike and fills the theater with heavenly sounds.
A Saturday night concert in the State Theater will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the Samples Brothers, Frank George, Lester McCumbers, John and Marvine Loving, Ellie Lepp, Robert Shafer and Johnny Staats, the United Gospel Singers, Nat Reese, Dwight Diller, Gandydancer and Kanawha Tradition.
In the Great Hall, the Quilts and Wall Hangings 2010 exhibition decorates the white marble walls in brilliant color and visual splendor with exquisite quilts representing the talents of West Virginia quiltmakers. Lynn and Jennifer Boggess: Teaching Artists, featuring the work of two of West Virginia’s finest painters who also have taught art, is on display in the Balcony Gallery, as well as the West Virginia’s First Ladies doll exhibit in its south wing, and Treasures of West Virginia’s Governors in its north wing. Enchanting Taiwan, a photography exhibit, is on display in the Lobby Gallery, outside the theater.
More than 45 craftspeople will be demonstrating and selling their creations in the craft circle on the State Capitol Grounds on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Potters, quilters, woodworkers, jewelers, instrument makers and stained glass artists, as well as photographers, weavers, fabric artists, and a host of others round out the circle. Salsa, honey and other food products also will be available, along with vendors offering plants native to West Virginia and other garden treasures.
The Vandalia Gathering also features a unique sampling of traditional and ethnic foods. The food booths will be open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Try such favorites as roasted corn, hot dogs, hamburgers, beef BBQs, pulled pork sandwiches, Greek specialties, German sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, homemade cobblers, strawberry shortcake and much more.
The festival will wrap up on Sunday with a finale concert showcasing the talents of the Happy Valley Boys, Bare Bones, Angie Richardson, Ginny Hawker and Tracey Schwarz and Ethel Caffie-Austin.
The Vandalia Gathering is a program of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. For more information about the festival, including a complete schedule of activities, visit the Division’s Web site at www.wvculture.org and access the link for events, or call Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner of the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, 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. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.