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Bluefield College celebrating Appalachia

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BLUEFIELD VA. (NEWS RELEASE) - Bluefield College will host its annual “Celebration of Appalachia,” culminating, as always, with the traditional daylong Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 12.

Open to the community at-large and featuring local musicians, artists, crafters, cooks, authors, storytellers,outdoorsmen and other vendors and talents, the Appalachian Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 12 in BC’s campus quad. More than 30 vendors are expected to join a variety of musicians for this year’s family day of fun.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a bluegrass music show by Dixie Rails, a rising new bluegrass group from Midland, Virginia, gaining significant experience, thanks to a busy show schedule. While the group is well known for its renditions of classic bluegrass from the likes of Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, and Ricky Skaggs, they showcase a vast diversity and repertoire by performing songs from other genres with a bluegrass twist, including selections from the Eagles, the Beatles, Dwight Yoakum, Brooks and Dunn, and even Ray Charles.

The trio prides itself on its ability to play any tune in its own way and have a good ol’ time while pickin’. The Dixie Rails are banjo picker and vocalist Tricia Hailey, rhythm keeping guitarist and singer Jimmy Wallen, and mandolin wielding vocalist Chris Keller, a Bluefield College graduate.

A second music show at 12:30 p.m. will feature local country singer/songwriter Will Workman of Princeton, West Virginia. An avid guitar and ukulele player, Workman writes songs “to get something off (his) chest,” to “tell a story,” or to “just create something.” For example, his song, “We All Have Scars,” comes out of a difficult situation in Workman’s life that made him realize we all have difficult times. His song, “That’s Country,” is about how country is not the same as it used to be.

“To me,” said Workman, a BC student, “song writing isn’t about getting a particular sound; it’s about pouring your heart out and seeing what happens.”

The final bluegrass show of the day will feature musician Virgil Harden at 2 p.m. A native of Wythe County, Virginia, Harden has been playing, singing and writing music since he was about 10 years old. His instrumental gifts include the harmonica, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and piano. After writing his first song at age 15 about “a sweetheart who ran off and married someone else,” Harden has written more than a hundred songs to date, most about his personal experiences in life.

Often playing with a bluegrass band called “Appalachian Countdown,” Harden plays bluegrass, country and gospel. The band includes banjo player Frank Horn from Tazewell, Virginia, bass player Grady McKenzie from Princeton, West Virginia, mandolin player Leroy Long from Tazewell, Virginia, and fiddle player Dewey Long from Rural Retreat, Virginia.

Filling the entire day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be artists and craftsmen exhibiting and selling quilts, crochet, woodwork, stuffed animals, birdhouses, jewelry, soaps and other hand-made items. Food vendors will be selling bread, desserts, kettle corn and other homemade merchandise. Among the vendors expected for 2014: Pat Kimbrell Krafts, The Woodcarver’s Cabin, Miss Liss Creations, Dazzle, Short Mountain Woodworks, Homespun Memories, MJ’s Petals and Bows, Becky Mosley’s Pillows and Cross-Stitch, JC Pots, Tree-n-Twig Crafts, Patti’s Beads, Mary’s Hand Quilting, Peggy and Herley Bailey’s Jewelry and Woodwork, Portraits by Breanna, My Little Girls Bowtique, Bluefield College Art Club, Emanuel Giampocaro’s Pottery, Betty Kuppusami’s Quilts, R&J Concessions, Appalachy Mountain Kettle Corn, Silver Saints Baked Goods, CAP Publishing, author Patrician Woodard Synan, JAMAR Publishing, author Adda Leah Davis, Tazewell County Historical Society, author Linda Hudson Hoagland, Mountain Top String Emporium, Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department, Virginia Department of Games and Inland Fisheries, Graham Historical Society, and Norman Arrington’s Antiques.

Other vendors interested in being a part of the Appalachian Festival should contact Bluefield College’s Kristy Stout by e-mail at kstout@bluefield.edu or by phone at 276-326-4246. Vendors may also access an application online at www.bluefield.edu/appalachia.

“It should be a wonderful day for the family to celebrate Appalachia,” said Bluefield College’s Brenda Workman. “Bring your camping chairs and stay for the day.”

Bluefield College launched its annual Celebration of Appalachia in the fall of 2011, featuring lectures, concerts, exhibits, discussions, movies, theatre, tours, festivals, and other educational and entertaining activities designed to honor the Appalachian heritage. The marquee event, the Appalachian Festival, began in the spring of 2012.

Other events on the celebration schedule this year include “Bluefield Rising Together,” a public art sculpture made of more than 100 donated ladders at the main entrance to campus off College Drive, now through April 10; a debut reading of BC’s 2014 literary magazine, The Bluestone Review, featuring local writers and artists, Thursday, April 10, 7 p.m., Student Activities Center, Shott Hall; and an Instrumental Music Concert, Tuesday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel, titled “Where We Are From.”

“From the people, the work ethic, the loyalties and the challenges, to the natural beauty, the traditions, the music and the food, Appalachia is a fascinating and beautiful culture,” said Bluefield College president Dr. David Olive. “Author Jeff Biggers once said, ‘you can’t understand America until you understand Appalachia.’ Our desire through this annual celebration is to increase the understanding and appreciation for the region in which we live. We hope everyone will join us in this educational and entertaining venture, in this celebration of Appalachia.”

For more information, visit www.bluefield.edu/appalachia, e-mail bcnews@bluefield.edu, or call 276-326-4212.

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