BC Celebrates Appalachian Culture

By Chris Shoemaker | April 15, 2014 | RSS

BC Celebrates Appalachian Culture
As part of its annual "Celebration of Appalachia," Bluefield College hosted its Third Annual Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 12, featuring bluegrass music, artisan and food merchants, book sales and signings, art exhibits, and a host of other family fun.

View more photos from this year's Appalachian Festival.

 

Guitars, banjos and mandolins were just a few of the instruments showcased during music sessions at Bluefield College’s Appalachian Festival, April 12.

 

Funnel cakes, homemade pastries and kettle corn were just a few of the food items on sale during the Appalachian Festival.

 

The Dixie Rails trio (pictured) joined Will Workman and Virgil Harden as the bluegrass and country artists performing at BC's Appalachian Festival.

 

View more photos from this year's Appalachian Festival.

 

Fiddlers strummed banjos, while singers bellowed bluegrass chords. Vendors pushed handmade quilts, woodwork, jewelry and other crafts, while artists molded clay and showcased drawings and paintings. The smell of funnel cake and other baked and deep-fried goods drifted through the air on a cool spring breeze, while students tossed beanbags into a corn hole and children rollicked in the grass.

 

It was the perfect family fun day, an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate the history, culture, people and traditions of Appalachia. It was the Third Annual Appalachian Festival at Bluefield College, Saturday, April 12, featuring bluegrass music, artisan and food merchants, book sales and signings, art exhibits, and a host of other family fun.

 

“This is a chance for students, staff and faculty, like myself, from this region to say this is what we’re proud of, this is who we are, and this is what makes us Appalachian,” said BC instrumental music professor Charles Priest, this year’s coordinator of the Appalachian Festival.

 

Dozens of locals ventured on the Bluefield College campus between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to observe the wares of the more than 50 Appalachian vendors, selling and exhibiting quilts, crochet, woodwork, stuffed animals, birdhouses, jewelry, soaps and other hand-made items, along with bread, desserts, kettle corn and other homemade goodies.

 

In between shopping and perusing, the spectators took in three separate bluegrass music shows, featuring the Dixie Rails trio and its renditions of Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and other bluegrass classics; Virgil Harden and his band, the Appalachian Countdown; and Will Workman and his country scores accompanied by guitar and ukulele.

 

“I think each year the festival gets better and better,” said BC’s Kristy Stout, a co-organizer of the annual event. “The weather combined with the live music, food and crafts made for a great day for relaxing and spending time outside. It was great to see people bring their chairs and come spend the day at the college for all the festivities.”

 

Co-sponsored by Grant’s Supermarkets and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield College’s Appalachian Festival is the marquee event in a weeklong series of activities, known as “A Celebration of Appalachia.” Other events on the celebration schedule this year included “Bluefield Rising Together,” a public art sculpture made of more than 100 donated ladders at the main entrance to campus off College Drive; a debut reading of BC’s 2014 literary magazine, The Bluestone Review, featuring local writers and artists; and an Instrumental Music Concert, titled “Where We Are From.”

 

“From the people, the work ethic, the loyalties and the challenges, to the natural beauty, the traditions, the music and the food, Appalachia is a fascinating and beautiful culture,” said BC president Dr. David Olive. “Author Jeff Biggers once said, ‘you can’t understand America until you understand Appalachia.’ Our desire through this annual celebration is to increase the understanding and appreciation for the region in which we live. We invite everyone to join us each year in this educational and entertaining venture, in this celebration of Appalachia.”

 

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Bluefield College will host its annual Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 12, featuring local artists, crafters, musicians, cooks, authors, storytellers and outdoorsmen.
 

Celebrate Appalachia Logo

 

Vendors Invited to Take Part in Appalachian Festival

Bluefield College will host its annual “Celebration of Appalachia,” April 7-12, culminating, as always, with the traditional daylong Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 12.

 

Open to the community at-large and featuring local artists, crafters, musicians, cooks, authors, storytellers,outdoorsmen and other vendors and talents, the Appalachian Festival will runfrom 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 12. More than 50 vendors took part in the celebration last year, and the college hopes even more will participate in 2014.

 

Interested vendors are invited to contact the college for a vendor application. Contact BC’s Kristy Stout by e-mail at or by phone at 276-326-4246. Vendors may also access an application online at www.bluefield.edu/appalachia.

 

Vendors participating in the Appalachian Festival will receive a long table for their demonstration/sales area, provided by the college. Vendors may bring up to two additional tables of their own and are encouraged to bring to cover their demonstration areas. Vendor spaces are $10, and fees must be paid by the morning of the festival.

 

A typical Appalachian Festival in years past has featured artists and craftsmen exhibiting and selling quilts, crochet, woodwork, stuffed animals, birdhouses, jewelry and soaps. Food vendors have sold homemade bread, desserts and kettle corn. Musicians have played bluegrass music and Appalachian-born instruments, while outdoorsmen have demonstrated turkey calling, fly-fishing, and bait-casting. Joining the vendors each year: hundreds of locals looking for a day of family fun.

 

“It’s wonderful!” said Dr. Emily Lambert, a BC biology professor who came out to enjoy the festival in 2013. “I grew up in the Appalachian region all of my life. We have a wonderful place to live here. This is what it’s all about. To me, it’s very relaxing.”

 

The day might also include book sales and signings with authors, along with storytelling from local historians. Vendors and exhibitors of all kinds are invited to join the fun.

 

“It should be a wonderful day for the family to celebrate Appalachia,” said last year’s festival coordinator Brenda Workman. “Bring your camping chairs and stay for the day.”

 

Bluefield College launched its annual Celebration of Appalachia in the fall of 2011, featuring lectures, concerts, exhibits, discussions, movies, theatre, tours, festivals, and other educational and entertaining activities designed to honor the Appalachian heritage. The marquee event, the festival, began in the spring of 2012.

 

For a vendor registration form for this year’s festival or for more information, visit the Bluefield College web site at www.bluefield.edu/appalachia.

 

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Complete Celebration of Appalachia Schedule

Now through April 10

Bluefield Rising Together

 

 

Public art sculpture made of more than 100 donated ladders, main entrance to campus off College Drive.

 

Thursday, April 10

The Bluestone Review

Debut reading of the 2014 Bluefield College literary magazine, The Bluestone Review, featuring local writers and artists, Student Activities Center, Shott Hall, 7 p.m.

 

Saturday, April 12

Appalachian Festival

Musicians, authors, artists, artisans, exhibits, food and other vendors, Campus Quad, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Dixie Rails Bluegrass Music

12 p.m. to 1 p.m., Appalachian-style Lunch

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., William Workman Bluegrass Music

2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Virgil Harden Bluegrass Music

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Pat Kimbrell Krafts, The Woodcarver’s Cabin, Miss Liss Creations, Dazzle, Short Mountain Woodworks, Homespun Memories, MJ’s Petals and Bows, Becky Mosley’s Pillows and Cross-Stitch, JC Pots, Tree-n-Twig Crafts, Patti’s Beads, Mary’s Hand Quilting, Peggy and Herley Bailey’s Jewelry and Woodwork, Portraits by Breanna, My Little Girls Bowtique, Bluefield College Art Club, Emanuel Giampocaro’s Pottery, Betty Kuppusami’s Quilts, R&J Concessions, Appalachy Mountain Kettle Corn, Silver Saints Baked Goods, CAP Publishing, author Patrician Woodard Synan, JAMAR Publishing, author Adda Leah Davis, Tazewell County Historical Society, author Linda Hudson Hoagland, Mountain Top String Emporium, Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department, Virginia Department of Games and Inland Fisheries, Graham Historical Society, Norman Arrington’s Antiques, and other artisans, authors and vendors.

 

Tuesday, April 15

Instrumental Music Concert

“Where We Are From,” featuring a special setting of “Amazing Grace,” arranged by Bluefield College student and Cherokee Joe Whitt about the comfort Cherokees found in the hymn during their grueling journey along the “Trail of Tears” from Virginia to Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m., Harman Chapel.

 

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Bluefield Rising Together: A Community Art Sculpture

A community united together, sharing its hopes and dreams, connected to and supporting one another. That’s the theme of “Bluefield Rising Together,” a public art project for and about the Greater Bluefield community on the campus of Bluefield College, now through April 10, and featuring hundreds of ladders on loan from individuals, families, businesses, schools, churches and other organizations across the community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Envisioned by artist Charlie Brouwer, “Bluefield Rising Together” is a temporary community sculpture on the Bluefield College campus made from more than a hundred ladders. In fact, Brouwer began work on the sculpture on March 14 with a grand opening on March 16.

 

Located at the main entrance to Bluefield College on College Drive, the ladders are joined together to form a temporary sculpture designed to represent the way the Greater Bluefield community is a collection of individual hopes and dreams that are connected and supportive of each other. For Brouwer, the whole process of participation in a common goal -- the borrowing and lending of tools and supplies to accomplish it -- is the art.

 

“This sculpture is a celebration of what it means to be a community,” he said. “It will be a metaphor for the way successful communities work. The more parts of the community that are included, the number and the variety of ladders -- from broken to brand new, short step stools to long extension -- the more like a community and the more successful the art will be.”

 

The ladders from “Bluefield Rising Together” form two towers, representing the two Bluefields, and are connected by an archway through which viewers are able to pass. The towers also symbolize, like the school’s chapel steeple, the reaching for higher learning, understanding and enlightenment. The archway represents community engagement and the connectedness of the two Bluefields -- separate, but connected and rising together.

 

“The two parts that are joined remind me of the two Bluefields, as well as the mountain and valley geography of the area,” said Brouwer, who has completed nine other similar sculptures in the past. “The spire-like towers resemble the steeple of the chapel, but they also remind me of the reaching for knowledge, the higher learning that takes place at the college. The arched opening invites visitors to walk around and through the ‘community’ and celebrate and feel a sense of accomplishing something together.”

 

The sculpture will stand near the main entrance to Bluefield College on College Drive in view of its library, administration building, chapel, and visual arts building through April 10. Brouwer said he chose the location for the sculpture because of its visibility and accessibility to both the college and the community. He said the location on College Drive is also ideal because of the connection to both Bluefields.

 

“College Drive goes right through and connects both communities,” said Brouwer, “and to have this project at the Bluefield College entrance signifies that the college wants to engage the surrounding community in an experience and a dialogue about what it means to be a community.”

 

Heavy-duty cable ties hold the ladders together, and weatherproof Tyvek tags are wired to each ladder identifying its lender. Each ladder and its donor are recorded on a form and the lender will receive a copy.

 

“This project is mostly about the ladders, loaned by individuals, families, schools, churches, businesses, and organizations from all over the Greater Bluefield community,” said Brouwer. “They represent the way a community is made up of individual hopes and dreams connected to and supporting each other.”

 

Ladders for the sculpture include step stools, long extension, and even creative hand-made ladders. Some are new, other used, even broken. Those that are donated to the project will go to Habitat for Humanity and the Appalachia Service Project once the sculpture is dismantled. Ladders that are loaned may be picked up April 13-18, from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday (April 13), 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (April 14, 16 and 18), or 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday (April 15 and 17).

 

“The ladders are all shapes and sizes, not wanting to exclude anyone,” said Brouwer. “It didn’t matter if they are usable or broken, step stools, or ladders off of small toys. They can even be a children’s craft to get them involved in making a ladder and contributing, as well.”

 

In addition to the sculpture on campus through April 10, Brouwer is presenting an exhibit of other works, titled “Now I Lay Me,” inside BC’s Lansdell Hall. Inspired by the simple child’s prayer “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” “Now I Lay Me” is a collection of drawings and wooded wall sculptures that will be on display in BC’s Art Gallery on the first floor of Lansdell Hall from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays through April 10.

 

Funding for “Bluefield Rising Together” was provided by the Janie Poteet Light Fund for Art Studies through the Community Foundation of the Virginias, Inc. and the Fannie Kate and Betty Gardener Bailey Fund. For more information, visit the project web site at www.bluefieldrisingtogether.org. Or, contact Walter Shroyer, chair of Bluefield College’s Department of Art and Design, by phone at 276-326-4558 or by email at , or Allison Forlines, director of BC’s Art Gallery, by phone at 304-888-4973 or by email at .

 

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Bluefield College to Unveil 21st Bluestone Review

 

 

Bluefield College will unveil the 21st edition of its Bluestone Review during a public reading and reception, Thursday, April 10 at 7 p.m.

 

 

Open and free to the public, the reading of the student-produced literary magazine will take place in BC’s Student Activities Center in Shott Hall where all contributors are invited to read their work from the publication.

 

Under the direction of Dr. Rob Merritt, professor of English, The Bluestone Review is a literary magazine published annually by Bluefield College students. The publication includes creative nonfiction, poetry, short essays, fiction, song lyrics, artwork, photography and other contributions submitted by BC students, faculty and staff, along with literary enthusiasts, young and old, professional and amateur, from the community.

 

The Bluestone Review is a great way for writers and artists to display their work,” said BC student Danielle Preservati, co-editor of the Review. “It is a great way for one to see the immense talent from both students and members of the community.”

 

Local residents are invited to attend the Review debut reading on April 10. A reception will follow the reading, and copies of the publication will be available for sale.

 

For more information, please visit The Bluestone Review Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bluestonereview, follow the publication on Twitter @bluestonereview, or check out blogs of past submissions at www.bluestonereview.wordpress.com.

 

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Appalachian Festival to Feature Bluegrass, Artisans, Exhibitors

Bluefield College will host its annual “Celebration of Appalachia,” culminating, as always, with the traditional daylong Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 12.

Bluegrass trio Dixie Rails.

 

Country singer/songwriter Will Workman.

 

Bluegrass musician Virgil Harden.
Artists will be among the vendors and exhibitors at BC's Appalachian Festival.

 

The Appalachian Festival promises something fun for all ages, April 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

 

Open to the community at-large and featuring local musicians, artists, crafters, cooks, authors, storytellers, outdoorsmen and other vendors and talents, the Appalachian Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 12 in BC’s campus quad. More than 30 vendors are expected to join a variety of musicians for this year’s family day of fun.

 

The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a bluegrass music show by Dixie Rails, a rising new bluegrass group from Midland, Virginia, gaining significant experience, thanks to a busy show schedule. While the group is well known for its renditions of classic bluegrass from the likes of Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, and Ricky Scaggs, they showcase a vast diversity and repertoire by performing songs from other genres with a bluegrass twist, including selections from the Eagles, the Beatles, Dwight Yoakum, Brooks and Dunn, and even Ray Charles.

 

The trio prides itself on its ability to play any tune in its own way and have a good ol’ time while pickin’. The Dixie Rails are banjo picker and vocalist Tricia Hailey, rhythm keeping guitarist and singer Jimmy Wallen, and mandolin wielding vocalist Chris Keller, a Bluefield College graduate.

 

A second music show at 12:30 p.m. will feature local country singer/songwriter Will Workman of Princeton, West Virginia. An avid guitar and ukulele player, Workman writes songs “to get something off (his) chest,” to “tell a story,” or to “just create something.” For example, his song, “We All Have Scars,” comes out of a difficult situation in Workman’s life that made him realize we all have difficult times. His song, “That’s Country,” is about how country is not the same as it used to be.

 

“To me,” said Workman, a BC student, “song writing isn’t about getting a particular sound; it’s about pouring your heart out and seeing what happens.”

 

The final bluegrass show of the day will feature musician Virgil Harden at 2 p.m. A native of Wythe County, Virginia, Harden has been playing, singing and writing music since he was about 10 years old. His instrumental gifts include the harmonica, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and piano. After writing his first song at age 15 about “a sweetheart who ran off and married someone else,” Harden has written more than a hundred songs to date, most about his personal experiences in life.

 

Often playing with a bluegrass band called “Appalachian Countdown,” Harden plays bluegrass, country and gospel. The band includes banjo player Frank Horn from Tazewell, Virginia, bass player Grady McKenzie from Princeton, West Virginia, mandolin player Leroy Long from Tazewell, Virginia, and fiddle player Dewey Long from Rural Retreat, Virginia.

 

Filling the entire day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be artists and craftsmen exhibiting and selling quilts, crochet, woodwork, stuffed animals, birdhouses, jewelry, soaps and other hand-made items. Food vendors will be selling bread, desserts, kettle corn and other homemade merchandise. Among the vendors expected for 2014: Pat Kimbrell Krafts, The Woodcarver’s Cabin, Miss Liss Creations, Dazzle, Short Mountain Woodworks, Homespun Memories, MJ’s Petals and Bows, Becky Mosley’s Pillows and Cross-Stitch, JC Pots, Tree-n-Twig Crafts, Patti’s Beads, Mary’s Hand Quilting, Peggy and Herley Bailey’s Jewelry and Woodwork, Portraits by Breanna, My Little Girls Bowtique, Bluefield College Art Club, Emanuel Giampocaro’s Pottery, Betty Kuppusami’s Quilts, R&J Concessions, Appalachy Mountain Kettle Corn, Silver Saints Baked Goods, CAP Publishing, author Patrician Woodard Synan, JAMAR Publishing, author Adda Leah Davis, Tazewell County Historical Society, author Linda Hudson Hoagland, Mountain Top String Emporium, Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department, Virginia Department of Games and Inland Fisheries, Graham Historical Society, and Norman Arrington’s Antiques.

 

Other vendors interested in being a part of the Appalachian Festival should contact Bluefield College’s Kristy Stout by e-mail at or by phone at 276-326-4246. Vendors may also access an application online at www.bluefield.edu/appalachia.

 

“It should be a wonderful day for the family to celebrate Appalachia,” said Bluefield College’s Brenda Workman. “Bring your camping chairs and stay for the day.”

 

Bluefield College launched its annual Celebration of Appalachia in the fall of 2011, featuring 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.

 

Other events on the celebration schedule this year include “Bluefield Rising Together,” a public art sculpture made of more than 100 donated ladders at the main entrance to campus off College Drive, now through April 10; a debut reading of BC’s 2014 literary magazine, The Bluestone Review, featuring local writers and artists, Thursday, April 10, 7 p.m., Student Activities Center, Shott Hall; and an Instrumental Music Concert, Tuesday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel, titled “Where We Are From.”

 

“From the people, the work ethic, the loyalties and the challenges, to the natural beauty, the traditions, the music and the food, Appalachia is a fascinating and beautiful culture,” said Bluefield College president Dr. David Olive. “Author Jeff Biggers once said, ‘you can’t understand America until you understand Appalachia.’ Our desire through this annual celebration is to increase the understanding and appreciation for the region in which we live. We hope everyone will join us in this educational and entertaining venture, in this celebration of Appalachia.”

 

For more information, visit www.bluefield.edu/appalachia, e-mail , or call 276-326-4212.

 

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Instrumental Concert to Feature Cherokee Hymn

Bluefield College will host its annual Spring Instrumental Music Concert, featuring performances by its Concert Band and Jazz Band, Tuesday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel.

 

 

 

 

Titled “Where We Are From,” the BC Concert Band program will highlight the nations and cultures that have come together to make America what it is today, including the Appalachian culture. Under the direction of Dr. Charles Priest, assistant professor of music, the band’s selections will feature a special setting of “Amazing Grace,” arranged by Bluefield College student and Cherokee Joe Whitt.

 

Titled “ga lu tsv ha i yu,” Whitt’s instrumental arrangement comes from the hymn created by the Cherokees during their grueling journey thousands of miles in the harsh winter to Oklahoma after being removed from their homelands in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. The Cherokees learned “Amazing Grace” from European settlers, but put their own words to the melody.

 

“While the traditional ‘Amazing Grace’ is essentially a story of salvation, the Cherokee version speaks of the second coming of Christ,” said Whitt. “The Cherokee had little to look forward to as their lives had been torn apart, and along the ‘Trail of Tears’ they would often sing their adaptation of the hymn at grave side services when they had to bury their dead, who died due to the harsh weather conditions and exhaustion.”

 

Translated into English “ga lu tsv ha i yu” means “when he returns” and is considered to be the National Anthem of the Cherokee Nation. Whitt’s arrangement is written for wind ensemble and features the traditional hymn melody over Native harmonies and Native style drumming.

 

“I arranged the piece because I believe it is important for people to understand the suffering and plight of the Cherokee during this trying time in their history,” said Whitt. “In a sense, you could say it represents the idea that regardless of our race or ethnicity, we are all one in Christ.”

 

Following the performance from the Concert Band, the program will move from the auditorium stage of Harman Chapel to the coffeehouse setting of BC’s Quick Shott Café in Shott Hall for a concert by BC’s Jazz Band.

 

Under the direction of Dr. Andy Necessary, the Jazz Band will perform a variety of jazz and blues improvisation, as well as standards throughout the history of jazz, including selections from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Horace Silver, and Louis Prima.

 

The Spring Instrumental Music Concert is open and free to the public. For more information about this or other Bluefield College music events, please contact the BC Public Relations Office by e-mail at or by phone at 276-326-4212.

 

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For More Information

The following contacts are available for more details about the 2014 Celebration of Appalachia.

Celebration of Appalachia Coordinator Charles Priest: or 276.326.4234

Appalachian Festival Coordinator Kristy Stout: or 276.326.4246

Office of Public Relations Office: or 276.326.4212

 

 

 

Media Contact

Chris Shoemaker, Assistant Professor, Communication

276.326.4279