(see below for photo links)
On Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26, 2002, the Cultural Center and State Capitol Complex grounds will play host to the 26th annual Vandalia Gathering—a FREE celebration of the traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts and food of West Virginia. 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 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 2002 Vandalia Gathering gets under way at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 24, in the West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center with the Vandalia Sampler concert featuring some of the festival’s favorite performers.
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. 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 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 round 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. The Vandalia Gathering food booths feature a unique sampling of traditional and ethnic foods. Try such favorites as hot dogs, roasted corn, hamburgers, funnel cakes, rib sandwiches, 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 2002” 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 art exhibits in the Balcony and Lobby Galleries.
The festival wraps up Sunday with an awards ceremony and concert finale in the State Theater beginning at 5 p.m.
Vandalia Gathering is a program of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Visit the Division’s web site at www.wvculture.org 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 Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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Photos (right click the image to save it to your computer; approximate file size is below the image). All photographs from the 2001 Vandalia Gathering. Photos by Michael Keller, WV Division of Culture and History. Please credit.