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Next week’s family-style Vandalia Gathering celebrates 28 years of traditional arts

The 28th annual Vandalia Gathering is a FREE celebration of the traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts and food of West Virginia. The Cultural Center and State Capitol Complex grounds will play host to this expanding family-style gathering on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28-30, 2004. The unique blending of ethnic and cultural heritage combines an atmosphere as comfortable as a family reunion with the excitement of a state fair.

The 2004 Vandalia Gathering gets underway at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 28, with the Vandalia Sampler concert featuring some of the state’s favorite performers in the West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center.

The statewide folk festival, named for the proposed 14th colony, creates new memories for the thousands of visitors who flock from across the Mountain State and the entire country to celebrate traditions passed from generation to generation. In addition to offering a sampling of West Virginia’s traditional mountain culture by showcasing craftspeople and performers, the Vandalia Gathering pays tribute to the state’s ethnic heritage through a variety of exhibitions and programs.

Activities on Saturday and Sunday include fiddle, banjo and lap dulcimer competitions, as well as the Liars Contest (honest!). A second contest stage includes competitions in flat pick guitar, mandolin and bluegrass banjo.

Singing, concerts and dancing ranging from ethnic and square dancing in the Great Hall of the Cultural Center to an outdoor open flatfoot-dancing stage are annual highlights. Spectators are encouraged to jump in and kick up their heels. Native American dancers are also featured on the Capitol grounds. The popular Old-Time for Young-Uns area on Saturday and Sunday features traditional hands-on fun and games for all ages!

For those who love the sounds of traditional music or would like to be introduced to it–Vandalia Gathering can fill the bill. Impromptu jam sessions spring up all over the grounds. At any moment, a shade tree becomes the site of a lively performance as strolling musicians stop to join in on a favorite old tune.

Gospel singing will be offered in the State Theater on Sunday. The workshop for novices and accomplished singers alike fills the theater with heavenly sounds. In the Great Hall, the Quilts and Wall Hangings 2004 exhibition decorates the white marble walls in brilliant color and visual splendor with exquisite quilts representing the talents of West Virginia quiltmakers.

More than 40 West Virginia craftspeople will be demonstrating and selling their creations in the craft circle on the State Capitol Grounds. Potters, quilters, woodworkers, jewelers, instrument makers and a host of others round out the circle. Salsa, honey, and other food products also will be available.

The festival sales booth will offer Vandalia Gathering T-shirts, hats, cups, seat cushions, pins and other memorabilia as well as compact discs and cassettes. Vandalia Gathering also features a unique sampling of traditional and ethnic foods. Try such favorites as roasted corn, hot dogs, hamburgers, beef BBQ’s, rib sandwiches, greek specialities, german sausage sandwiches and much more.

A Saturday night concert in the State Theater will begin with an awards presentation for the day’s contests and quilt winners at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday at 5 p.m., the festival will wind down with the awards for the day’s contests and a final concert.

Vandalia Gathering is a program of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. For more information or a complete schedule of Vandalia Gathering events, call (304) 558-0162.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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