CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After being canceled in 2020 and scaled back in 2021, the Vandalia Gathering is set to return to normal operations this Memorial Day weekend.
The event, which marks the 45th annual celebration of West Virginia’s traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts and food, runs from Friday to Sunday on the state Capitol grounds in Charleston.
Randall Reid-Smith, curator of the state Department of Arts, Culture and History, said there’s a little something for everyone.
“It’s all of our West Virginia music, crafts and foods. It’s so special that we celebrate who we are, what we are now and what we’re going to continue to be,” he said.
The festival offers a unique blend of ethnic and cultural heritage that Reid-Smith said young people can also learn about.
“I love seeing these young kids learn from the old masters. That’s my favorite thing, to watch people gather under a tree at the Capitol and teach songs to the next generation,” he said.
The event returns to its original, full weekend format following a downsized version last year which included a concert to honor the Vandalia Award winners and those who competed in the state’s popular quilt-making contest.
Reid-Smith said he has a personal connection to the quilt-making competition.
“Quilts tell our stories,” he said. “My grandmothers were quilt makers. My one grandmother did Dutch girl patterns which were always her dresses that she wore to church.”
The quilt winners will be announced Friday when the event kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
“We had the largest number of quilts we’ve ever had. It’s been great,” Reid-Smith said.
Quilts from the event will be on display at the state Culture Center beginning Friday through Sept. 13.
Also on Friday, there will be an opening concert at 7 p.m. featuring Tessa Dillon, Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller, Jenny Allinder, Pete Kosky and the Jimmy Gabehart Band.
Vendors and outside activities will open at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
There will be a Saturday evening concert that starts at 7 p.m. in the State Theater and will feature performances by the Mack Samples Band, Lady D, Dwight Diller, Kanawha Tradition, Gerry Milnes and Chance McCoy.
Sunday’s events begin at 11 a.m. with a one-hour gospel set by Angie Richardson, followed by old-time banjo, lap dulcimer, and flat-pick guitar contests, with half-hour concerts by Buck McCumbers & Company, Andy Fitzgibbon, the Lilly Mountaineers, Roger Bryant, Robin and Dan Kessinger and Sawyer Chapman.
The event is free to the public. A full schedule can be viewed HERE.