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Family-style Vandalia Gathering to mark 25 years of celebrating the traditional arts

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The 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 25th annual family-style gathering on Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27, 2001. 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 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.

The 2001 Vandalia Gathering gets under way at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 25, with a square dance on the State Capitol Complex grounds. The Vandalia Sampler concert, featuring some of the festival’s favorite performers, starts at 7:30 p.m. that evening in the West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center.

Activities on Saturday and Sunday include old-time 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.

A ballad workshop will be followed by a poetry reading on Saturday afternoon in the West Virginia State Theater. Singing will fill the North Briefing Room of the Cultural Center with heavenly sounds on Sunday afternoon with a gospel workshop for novices and accomplished singers alike. Two films, “Vandalia: The Tradition Continues,” and “Morris Family Old-Time Music Festival,” will be shown Saturday and Sunday in the North Briefing Room.

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. The popular Old-Time for Young-Uns area on Saturday and Sunday, sponsored this year by Allegheny Power, 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.

West Virginia craftspeople will be demonstrating and selling their creations in the craft circle on the State Capitol Grounds. Potters, quilters, woodworkers and a host of other gifted artisans rounds out the circle. Salsa, jelly, salad dressings, gourmet coffee and tea, and a variety of other food products also will be available.

The Festival Sales booth will offer Vandalia Gathering T-shirts, cups, seat cushions, pins and other souvenirs as well as compact discs and cassettes from West Virginia’s finest traditional musicians. Limited-edition, 25th Vandalia Gathering commemorative craft items by Barns Run Wildwood, Glasswerks and Gary Shaffer Pottery also will be available. The Vandalia Gathering food booths feature a unique sampling of traditional and ethnic foods. Try such favorites as hot dogs, roasted corn, homemade ice cream, Greek and Italian specialties, German sausages and much more.

In the Great Hall and Art Gallery of the Cultural Center, the “Quilts and Wall Hangings 2001” juried exhibition decorates the white marble walls in brilliant color and visual splendor with exquisite quilts representing the talents of West Virginia quiltmakers. Visitors can also check out an exhibit of heritage crafts in the Balcony Gallery.

The festival wraps up Sunday with an awards ceremony and concert finale in the State Theater beginning at 5 p.m.

[Note to media: A complete schedule of Vandalia Gathering activities is attached.]

The Vandalia Gathering is a program of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Visit the Division’s web site at for more information or a schedule of Vandalia Gathering events. Call (304) 558-0220.

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 Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Media Note: Publicity photos for the Vandalia Gathering may be downloaded from the Division’s website at For prints, please contact Ginny Painter at (304) 558-0220, ext. 120.