“Celebrating Women’s Voices in Appalachia” is the theme of the 2022 Appalachian Heritage Festival that will take place on the Shepherd University campus on September 24 2022.
Rachael Meads, who oversees a variety of student activities and leadership programs on campus in addition to her classroom teaching that focuses on Appalachia, recalls organizing the first festival in 1995. “There were students in my class who really didn’t know much about Appalachia, or knew just the typical stereotypes. There were other students who were from Appalachia and were hiding it – afraid that they would be judged negatively. We organized a one day music and culture event to help both groups better understand the culture of the region. There was no grand plan, but afterward everyone asked – what do we do next year?”
Now in its 26th year (skipping 2020 for the pandemic), the festival presents a music-centric event highlighting the rich multicultural traditions found in Appalachia. This year’s performers are Lady D (known as West Virginia’s First Lady of Soul), The State Birds string band led by award-winning fiddler Tessa Dillon, and Olivia Ellen Lloyd, a contemporary country artist who is also a Shepherdstown native. More than just performance, the festival also includes workshops and participatory events in the spirit of the community-based culture.
Overlapping with the festival, the Appalachian Heritage Writer-In-Residence program hosts events during the week before and after the festival [see related article].
The Appalachian Heritage Festival takes place on September 24 (Sat) 2022 and runs from 11 am until 4pm with events at Reynolds Hall (109 N King St., Shepherdstown). The evening concert, featuring all of the artists, begins at 7 pm, outdoors at the Frank Arts Center Plaza on the campus (next to the wellness center at 164 University Drive). All events are free and open to the public (donations appreciated).