On June 6-9, 2019 at Robbins Crossing in Nelsonville, Ohio, the Nelsonville Music Festival celebrates its 15th Anniversary hosting a variety of artists including, Death Cab for Cutie, Mavis Staples, Tyler Childers, The Breeders, and many more! While the Nelsonville Music Festival hosts renowned musicians from around the world, it is still able to maintain a special sense of purpose, separating it from the average music festival. Perhaps this is rooted in the festival’s conception as a production of and fundraiser for Stuart’s Opera House, a non-profit historic theater and performing arts center located in Nelsonville, Ohio.
The Nelsonville Music Festival is able to simultaneously draw attendees from around the globe and still maintain a close-knit community feel. All of the proceeds of NMF benefit arts education in southeastern Ohio, meaning every ticket purchased helps to enrich the lives of children with unequal access to educational resources. Because the Nelsonville Music Festival is an event designed to support the community, every element of the festival, including the Free Boxcar Stage, the Zero Waste Initiative, and the Kids Area, works in tandem to fulfill the spirit of community that is integral to the reputation of the festival.
The Nelsonville Music Festival and Stuart’s Opera House are both situated in Nelsonville, Ohio, in the heart of Appalachian Ohio. This region fosters its own sense of deeply rooted community values, which are reinforced at the Nelsonville Music Festival. While community pride runs deep, financial resources are often limited at every level of the community. For example, for many years, Nelsonville-York Middle School was unable to provide an art instructor for a middle school art class. When the Arts Education Director from Stuart’s Opera House met with the school’s administration, the administration requested that Stuart’s help fill this gap. Through
community support and fundraisers like the Nelsonville Music Festival, Stuart’s was able to pay the salary of the Nelsonville-York Middle School art teacher. This is one of many examples as to how Stuart’s Opera House and the Nelsonville Music Festival are vital to providing arts education to the otherwise underserved region of southeastern Ohio.
The Stuart’s Opera House Arts Education program also hosts the Afterschool Music Program (AMP). AMP is an after school rock and roll music program which supports and fosters young students who are interested in learning how to play a variety of instruments, including guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards, and drums, to form bands. The culmination of this experience is a performance on the Boxcar Stage at the Nelsonville Music Festival. Each band, comprised entirely of AMP students, performs on stage like any other artist booked for the festival. Their performance on the Boxcar Stage is free and open to the public.
The Boxcar Stage is one of the many unique aspects of the Nelsonville Music Festival that reinforces the strong sense of community. It is a festival within the festival with a full schedule of music spanning over the full four days, complete with artisan vendors, food vendors, and a beer garden. There is also access to the free skate ramp, which provides a fun activity for children at the festival. In addition to access to the free Boxcar Stage, all children 12 and under get in free to the festival, which gives them access to the famed Kids Area, complete with a full schedule of activities to occupy the minds and company of the children at the festival.
The Kids Area, Arts Education, and the Boxcar Stage each contribute to the community feel of the festival. These areas are, again, only a few of the aspects of the festival that make it unique. For example, the Zero Waste Initiative is driven by Rural Action, a local nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce waste at the festival and effectively diverted 92% of festival waste from the landfill in 2018. In addition to the support of local nonprofits, the Nelsonville Music Festival creates a space for local food and artisan vendors, books local artists to perform, and receives support from hundreds of volunteers that help run nearly every aspect of the festival. Without the strong sense of community in Nelsonville and southeastern Ohio, the Nelsonville Music Festival would not be what it has evolved into today, a truly one-of-a-kind festival that supports arts education in the region.
Stuart’s Opera House presents the 15th annual Nelsonville Music Festival, June 6-9, 2019 at Robbins Crossing on the campus of Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio. Four days of music featuring many bands on multiple stages all weekend long with camping, kids’ activities, artisan vendors, food, beer garden, and much more. Weekend passes for all four days are on sale now for $175 (with no fees), and the price will go up as we get closer to the festival weekend. Weekend passes for Nelsonville residents and teens are only $85, and kids 12 and under are free. Camping passes and VIP weekend passes to the festival are also on sale now. Tickets and more information can be found nelsonvillefest.org or by calling (740) 753-1924. You can also find the Nelsonville Music Festival on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.