Frostburg State University’s Appalachian Festival will return to campus for its 17th year from Sept. 15 to 17. The free, family-friendly event brings together artists and craftspeople to celebrate all that makes the region unique — its history, culture, music and dance, folk arts, food and more — with performances, workshops, displays, discussions and activities.
This year’s theme is Landscapes and Livelihoods.
The capstone event is a concert by the Karan Casey Trio in Frostburg’s historic Palace Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 17. With a clear, impassioned voice, Casey has long been recognized as one of the most innovative and provocative musicians in Irish traditional and folk music, singing songs that are suffused with warmth and charged with a sense of social conscience. Joined by fiddler and vocalist Niamh Dunne and guitarist and accordionist Sean Óg Graham, Casey’s performance features songs that draw inspiration from personal, historical and political sources while touching on themes of family, loss, love, the empowerment of women and the Irish revolutionary struggle. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13.50 for children and military and can be purchased at the door or ordered at ces.frostburg.edu.
Events kick off in Frostburg’s Palace Theatre at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 with the film “Holler.” This semi-autobiographical film by Nicole Riegel provides a poignant look at the region’s social and economic challenges through the eyes of a young girl caught between her own dreams of a seemingly unattainable future and desperate choices for survival. A post-film discussion moderated by FSU faculty will follow the screening.
The festival’s Sept. 16 on-campus symposium continues the theme Landscapes and Livelihoods with discussions that explore pathways to Appalachian resilience with presentations on new agricultural pursuits, including marijuana cultivation, eco-tourism and the creation of inclusive communities. Although each presentation features a different topic, all are connected by a common dedication to regional resilience.
Events begin at 2 p.m. with The Future Is Hemp: A Presentation and Discussion of the Most Amazing Plant, led by members of the Mountain Maryland Hemp Alliance, which includes a short talk on what hemp is, how it is used and how local growers see it moving forward.
At 3 p.m., Laura Freeman Legge and Steve Storck present Western Maryland Trail Expansion: The Tale of Two Trails, featuring two visions for trail expansion in Western Maryland and exploring the benefits and risks of such proposals. The program focuses on two proposed trails, the George’s Creek Trail and the Wild Youghiogheny Trail.
Intentional, Inclusive and Intergenerational: The Future of Community Living by Jane Rohde at 4 p.m. completes an update on trends for the direction for community living and the related healthcare, service and amenity marketplace from a wellness, sustainable and inclusive perspective.
At 5 p.m., soil ecologist, consultant and educator Ben Friton will present Biomimicry at a Systems Level to provide an exploration of the laws governing thriving ecosystems that allow them to grow indefinitely and how humans can leverage biomimicry in their relationships, dwellings, farms, communities and society.
The final presentation is The Brownsville Project by Clory Jackson at 6 p.m. As part of the Frostburg Arts and Entertainment District’s strategic plan, FrostburgFirst is facilitating a new public art installation in collaboration with The Brownsville Project to highlight the often-overlooked impact of the Brownsville community on the history and culture of Frostburg. A public art installation in the Frostburg Arts and Entertainment District will honor the requests of the descendants, while highlighting the importance of the contribution of the community to the history and culture of Frostburg.
At 7 p.m., the symposium closes with Dinner on the Grounds: Songs for Environmental and Social Justice featuring Sparky and Rhonda Rucker and Michael and Carrie Kline in an event to celebrate positive social and environmental change.
Sept. 17 events feature two music stages with performances on the Compton Stage by Bear Hill Bluegrass, Black Diamond, Meadow Run, Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, Ken and Brad Kolodner, Jocelyn Pettit and Ellen Gira, Highland Grass, Critton Hollow String Band and the Barnstormers, Hickory Bottom Band and Day Old News.
Performers on the Thomas Automotive Stage include Jay Smar, Time Travelers, Dakota Karper and Pete Hobbie, Davis Bradley Duo, Jeff and Myles Thomas, Loretta Hummel and Paul Dix, Anne Lough and Amy Lough, Rev. Frankie, Old Towne Strings and Black Guy Fawkes.
Additional performance areas include Chapel Happenings Outdoors with music by the Frostburg Arion Band; Songs of Strife and Hope with Sparky and Rhonda Rucker and Michael and Carrie Kline; Appalachian Storytelling with Judi Tarowsky, Rich Knoblich, Otto and Katie Ross, Bill Hairston and Mikalena Zuckett; and a folk and traditional Irish Singing workshop with Capstone Concert performer Karan Casey.
The Family Stage provides something for children of all ages and features interactive performances by The Imagineers and Cowboy Hay, as well as a jug band with Slim Harrison and the Sunnyland Band. In addition, students and teachers from the folk music school The Cat and the Fiddle will share some of the music they have learned or taught.
Hands-on workshops and presentations can be found in the Folkways Tent, which offers workshops on Appalachian dance, the dulcimer and percussive dance. Musician Ben Townsend will provide his take on traditional Appalachian music and Sparky and Rhonda Rucker will perform songs of social change. FSU students are also conducting a community listening project focusing on the “Push and Pull of Appalachia” and are especially interested in hearing from community members about the conditions that push residents to leave, those that compel them to stay and the changes they’d like to see in the area.
The Explorations Tent offers an interactive session, facilitated by Nature Conservancy staff, exploring how reforestation projects might be designed to include benefits to local communities, as well as presentations on the wildlife educational program Scales to Tales; traditional medicinal plants of Appalachia; how to encourage pollinators; coal, class and color by Talking Across the Lines, a folklife documentary consulting and production firm; and the importance of community in the Appalachian punk scene.
A wide variety of artisans will be on site to demonstrate local traditions, including tatting, pottery, folk art, steampunk, rug hooking, jewelry making, knitting, basket weaving, traditional music, fiber art, cigar-box banjos, stained glass, woven potholders, leather goods, slate paintings, charcoal prints, watercolors, wood carvings, custom-made furniture, herb and flower arrangements, quilted cards, hand-dyed yarns, wooden toys and personal and homecare products.