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Home Craft Days; Annual festival keeps mountain music, customs alive

October 14th, 2013 9:21 am by Entertainment Staff

Home Craft Days; Annual festival keeps mountain music, customs alive

Mountain Empire Community College will once again welcome thousands of visitors to campus this fall for its annual Home Craft Days.

The 42nd annual Home Craft Days festival will be held Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday, Oct. 20 at MECC, located on U.S. Route 23 just south of Big Stone Gap, Va. Admission to all festival events is free.

Celebrating the rich music, culture and artistry of Southwest Virginia, Home Craft Days features demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, grist milling, wood crafting, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, tatting and much more.

This year’s event will feature the addition of an outdoor performance stage, allowing the festival to expand its lineup of premier old-time, folk, traditional and gospel bands. The Legends Stage will feature talented musicians under the big-top tent and will provide even more opportunities to hear musical acts, including young musicians from the region.

The WISE JAMs program, one of the festival’s youth acts, features students from Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Coeburn and St. Paul, Va., and is held at the Southwest Virginia Museum in Big Stone Gap and Lays Hardware in Coeburn.

“We are really excited to add a second outdoor stage to the festival,” said Sue Ella Boatright-Wells, festival director and MECC’s Dean of Workforce Development. “The second stage will allow more opportunities for our youth to be able to perform, and we have been able to schedule many more musical performances for the event.”

The festival will begin with a series of music workshops from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday. Each workshop is $30 per student and will include intermediate autoharp instructed by Oscar Harris, advanced banjo instructed by Julie Shepherd-Powell, beginning old-time string band with Larry Mullins and Joey O’Quinn, and songwriting instructed by Ron Short.

Students may register for workshops by calling (276) 523-7489.

Festivities will continue Friday with a free concert at 6 p.m. in the college’s Goodloe Center co-sponsored by the Pro-Art Association. Performers will include Dale Jett and Hello Stranger, Robin and Linda Williams, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, the Empty Bottle Band, and the Mountain Music School String Band.

Home Craft Days will continue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday with more than 40 music, storytelling and dance performances on the two stages.

The Center Stage Cloggers, under the direction of Velissa Stallard, will also perform both days.  

More than 200 crafters and artists will sell and demonstrate traditional Appalachian mountain folk arts. Crafts include painting, pottery, needlework, woodcrafts, whittling, blacksmithing, quilting, broom making, corn grinding and many others.  Festival goers can purchase freshly pressed apple cider from local orchards, locally grown fall vegetables and freshly ground corn meal.

Local authors will sell books with Appalachian themes.

Festival foods will range from traditional home cooking to international offerings.

On-campus and off-site shuttle parking is available.

For more information, visit

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