Photo by Scott Preston
Mother’s Day weekend in Cincinnati just isn’t the same without the region’s most popular spring festival – the Appalachian Festival. And the three day event is back – May 11 to 13 at Coney Island – packed with down home fun for the whole family.
The 43rd annual Appalachian Festival — presented by The Appalachian Community Development Association to help raise awareness of Appalachian culture – will re-create authentic mountain life with down-home music, dance, storytelling, food and crafts. Appalachian heritage runs deep throughout this entire region with more than 300,000 people claiming Appalachian ancestry.
Music All The Time
Fantastic foot-stompin’ music from the hills, performed by great bluegrass artists, fills the air all three days of the festival. Returning as headliners for Saturday night will be widely recognized group, The Tillers – awarded CityBeat Magazine’s Cincinnati Entertainment Award for best Folk and Americana in 2009. The Tillers resurrect songs of America’s past, craft originals all their own while touching on themes both historical and timeless. Clawhammer banjo, acoustic guitar and upright bass meet high mountain harmonies that belt, croon, lament and rejoice. They continue to enter new territory, electrifying audiences wherever they go.
Numerous other talented mountain music acts also are booked for this year’s festival. The music lineup features Ginny Hawker & Tracy Schwarz, Rabbit Hash String Band, OK Ramblers, Ma Crow, Wild Carrot & The Roots Band, Missy Werner, Comet Bluegrass Allstars, and more.
Ever wanted to pick up your feet to the foot stompin’ Cotton Eyed Joe? Now you can. Friday night at 6 p.m. the Sprit of America Cloggers will be offering instruction. Saturday and Sunday afternoon dance performances will feature the Sugar Foot Cloggers, Five Points Cloggers, Jubilee Cloggers, Hoosier Hoedowners Cloggers, Spirit of America Cloggers, and Harkie’s Howdowners Cloggers.
A significant aspect of Appalachian life in days gone by was the cultured art of storytelling, a mountain version of today’s internet and cell phones. Storytellers carried tales from village to village, and that skill is re-lived all three days at this year’s festival with some of the best yarnspinners around, including Rick Carson, Cynthia Changaris, Hannah Sue Cooper, Omope Daboiku, Stephen Hollen, Paul Ingram, and Sandy Messerly.
Great Homemade Gifts For Mom
The annual Appalachian Festival is always an amazing shopping experience. More than 100 handcrafters and gift-makers come from all over the entire Appalachian region to display their unique wares and meet the public. It’s a great opportunity for everyone in the family to find that perfect gift for mom.
Visitors will be able to choose from an impressive array of crafts, including hand-made quilts and clothing, wooden furniture and bowls, pottery, metal sculptures, hand-crafted jewelry, leather goods, stained glass, musical instruments, baskets, handmade dolls, and much more.
History On Display
Back this year will be a coal mining exhibit featuring tools and implements of the mining trade, photography and multi-media exhibit curated by Cincinnatian Shanon Rice, plus a simulated coal mine entrance that adventurous visitors may crawl through to see what it is like to go to work every day by entering an opening only 32” high.
Always one of the most popular attractions at the festival, the large “Living History Village” features period re-enactors, some 50 families camping just as their Appalachian forebearers did 150+ years ago. The pioneer re-enactors will demonstrate mountain life in the 1800s through authentic dress, living quarters and activities. Many demonstrators with old-time skills will be on hand, from blacksmiths, soap-makers, a bee keeper, spinners, weavers, ice cream and butter makers and many others spread throughout the entire area.
The living history area is a special place for kids, too. Children have a blast with educational and fun hands-on demonstrations, including mining for gems, and making apple butter. Additional activities include making cornmeal, flint napping, and pottery and rope making.
Also in the pioneer village, Native American Indian drum and dancing will be presented by All Nations Drum. The group upholds and promotes the spiritual, cultural and traditional values of the Native American heritage through drumming, dancing and storytelling. The dancing demonstrations are scheduled throughout the three days in the Living History Village.
NEW this year will be pig races throughout the weekend, immediately following the drum dances.
Eating Your Way Through The Festival
Food’s on! And that means it is time for visitors to tuck in that napkin and begin enjoying the best mountain cooking around.
Visitors can start with a hardy breakfast of biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon. Then the selection is endless, with country or smoked ham, Blazin’ Red Fish, smoked pulled BBQ Pork, Blue Ridge Bangers (smoked sausage with peppers & onions), smoked beef or chicken pitas, butterfly pork chops, and grilled cheese. And yet there is more: soup beans, smoked turkey legs, fried chicken, and Jambalaya. And don’t forget the sweet potato fries, garlic mushrooms, beef jerky, cole slaw, baked beans, cornbread, mustard greens, country taters, Wooly-Wooly potatoes, green beans, macaroni & cheese, and various types of salads.
Those with a sweet tooth can try out the old-fashioned kettle corn, funnel cakes, German roasted almonds/cashews/pecans, homemade fudge (including diabetic recipe fudge), and giant caramel and candy apples.
Frugal Friday Offers Super Deal
The Appalachian Festival has always been known as a value-packed festival with modest ticket pricing. And now it is even better: Friday, May 11, is extra special with a half-price admission all day and night long. “Frugal Friday” pricing is adults $4, seniors $2, and children 4-11 $1 (children under 3 get free admission.) Pricing on Saturday and Sunday is adults $8, seniors, $4, children 4-11, $2. Parking is $6.
Festival hours are Friday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.