Appalachian Festival Moved to Chapel

By Chris Shoemaker | April 6, 2017 | RSS

Appalachian Festival Moved to Chapel
Bluefield College will host its traditional daylong Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 8, but with the forecast for cold and snowy weather, the event has been moved from outside on the campus quad to inside Harman Chapel Auditorium.



Award-winning songwriter, storyteller and entertainer Michael Reno Harrell will perform for Bluefield College's Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel.


Bluefield College's Celebration of Appalachia will kick off Monday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel with the Appalachian Tale Spinner Charles Reese.


Local storyteller Fred Powers will provide a presentation on the history of the Coal Wars in the region, Tuesday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m., along with a showing of the movie Matewan, as part of Bluefield College's Celebration of Appalachia.


Award-winning fiddler Ron Mullenex will headline a host of old time musicians performing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Bluefield College's Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 8.





Open and free to the community at-large and featuring local musicians, artists, crafters, cooks, authors, storytellers, and other vendors and talents, the Appalachian Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 8 in BC’s Harman Chapel.


The musical entertainment will run all day and will include champion multi-instrumentalist and award-winning fiddler Ron Mullenex, old time musician Rory Mullenex, and bagpiper Gavin Scott. Other performers will include Paul Katron, Lanny Lindamood, Landon Harris, Steve Kruger, Casey Lewis, Jim Lloyd, and storyteller Reema Keen.


Dozens of vendors are expected to join the variety of musicians and performers selling baked goods, jellies, kettle corn, greeting cards, art, candles, soaps, lotions, jewelry, quilts, crafts, woodwork and other homemade and handmade goods. Local authors will include Adda Leah Davis, Linda Hudson Hoagland, Kim Headlee, Dana Smith, and Sam Varney.


Winners of the Third Annual Nora Lockett Memorial Appalachian Writing Contest will also be announced during the Appalachian Festival. The writing contest is tribute to the late Nora Lockett, a McDowell County native, coal and Appalachia historian, Bluefield College alumna, and longtime BC director of library services.


The Appalachian Festival will conclude with a folk music concert at 7:30 p.m. on April 8 in Harman Chapel, featuring Michael Reno Harrell, an award-winning songwriter, storyteller and entertainer whose performances appeal to a very diverse audience. Harrell’s recordings have topped charts and earned awards year after year in Americana, country, and folk circles. His original songs and stories have been described as “Appalachian grit and wit,” and his writing reflects an insight into people’s experiences that catches the ear like an old friend’s voice.


In addition to the daylong Appalachian Festival, BC’s Celebration of Appalachia, extending from April 3-13 and officially titled Celebrating Appalachian Heritage and Coal Culture, will also include a folk tales event, a movie night with storytelling, a second concert, a paint night, and an art show and demonstration.


Dramatist Charles Reese, professor and chair of the Bluefield College Department of Theatre, will lead the folk tales event, Monday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel. Reese has been a professional performer for nearly 40 years, and one of his many specialties is the telling of Appalachian folk tales, which he will share during the kid friendly evening of fun and laughter as the Appalachian Tale Spinner.


On Tuesday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel, the celebration will continue with a viewing of the 1987 movie Matewan, filmed in the coal country of West Virginia and celebrating labor unions of the 1920s as they fought the powerful coal companies for the sake of workers’ rights. In addition to the movie, local storyteller Fred Powers will provide a presentation on the history of the Coal Wars in the region.


As part of the Blue Mountain Performing Arts Series and in the midst of the Celebration of Appalachia, the Equinox Little Big Band will perform live in concert on Thursday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel. Featuring Louisiana natives Jeremy Davis and Clay Johnson and their fiery hot 17-piece big band, the show will include hits from Motown, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Elvis, and other musical legends. Admission will be $15 for adults, $10 for students, and free to Bluefield College and Blue Mountain members.


Artist Marianne Jackson will lead a Blue Ridge Mountains Paint Night, Friday, April 7 at 6:45 p.m. in BC’s Cox Visual Arts Center. She will lead participants creating their own work of art to take home at the end of the evening. No art experience needed. Cost: $30 per person.


BC’s Celebration of Appalachian Heritage and Coal Culture will conclude with an art show and demonstration, Tuesday, April 13 at 4 p.m. in Lansdell Hall. Artist Jennifer Phillips Carpenter will present an art show titled “Yes, It’s Colored Pencil,” and following her show and a reception, she will lead a discussion and demonstration on using colored pencils with an Icarus board.


Established in the fall of 2011, Bluefield College’s annual Celebration of Appalachia began as a series of lectures, concerts, exhibits, discussions, movies, theatre, tours, festivals, and other educational and entertaining activities designed to honor the Appalachian heritage. The marquee event, the Appalachian Festival, began in the spring of 2012 to further celebrate the history, culture, people and traditions of Appalachia with music, art, crafts, cuisine, literature and discourse. Acknowledging the importance of coal to the region, the event became A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage and Coal Culture in the spring of 2017. All events are open to the community and are free unless otherwise noted.


For more information, visit, email , or call 276-326-4212. Vendors who haven’t, but would still like to register to be a part of the Appalachian Festival may do so online by visiting the BC web site at Prospective vendors may also email the college for a registration form at .




Media Contact

Chris Shoemaker, Assistant Professor, Communication