CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The long held tradition of mountain music will be celebrated this weekend on the grounds of the West Virginia state capitol. It’s the 38th annual Vandalia Gathering.
“It started as an opportunity to bring together West Virginia musicians who played old time and traditional music,” said Caryn Gresham at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. “It grew from small gatherings here on the state capitol that a program that celebrates not just the music but the art and the dance.”
From Friday evening through Sunday evening the grounds will be alive with the sounds of fiddles, mandolins, banjos, and flat top guitars. You’ll hear the distant click of flat foot dancing on a hardwood floor and dozens of exhibits will feature the arts and talents of West Virginians carrying on the heritage of the state.
Although it’s a celebration of West Virginia heritage, it’s also an opportunity to pass along the appreciation of that heritage to the next generation. Children are encouraged to visit and participate.
“We want to make sure our young people who are hearing it are welcomed into the fold old-time and traditional music,” Gresham said.
A tent is set up to allow youngsters between the ages of 7 and 15 to play and pick with master musicians on the popular instruments.
All weekend there are roaming musicians who’ll pick up and play with one another and there are on stage competitions. The competitions are limited to West Virginia musicians only, but anyone is welcome to show up and play on the grounds to showcase their talent or visit and enjoy all of the surroundings.
A year ago the annual festival was shortened and split between Memorial Day and the state’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. This year, it’s back to three days of pickin’ and fun.
“We’re hoping some people who got to learn about Vandalia and were at the sesquicentennial have decided they’ll come for Vandalia this year,” Gresham said.