The Walnut Valley Festival draws thousands of people to Winfield, KS on the third weekend of September each year. Kansas’ biggest folk music event has many GPDA members packing on Labor Day weekend instead of taking one more trip to the lake. As we all get ready, I wanted to make sure everyone knows about some of the best dulcimer-related events going on.
#1 – The Warm-Up Picnic – Saturday, Sept 8th – 9am-9pm. This GPDA -sponsored event in Island Park includes all kinds of free instruction, concerts, jam sessions, food, and laughter. All the details are up on our website and Facebook page. It’s an all-hand-on-deck event for the club, so find a way to get involved if you haven’t yet. Then, invite all your music-loving friends to come too!
#2 – The Winfield Crawl – Tuesday, Sept 11th – 6:30-8:30pm. Happening in downtown Winfield, this is another free event. The city grills hotdogs and hamburgers, and nearly every business on Main St has live music. There will be lots of tie-dye, bluegrass, and the dulcimer club plays in front of Gallery 1001. Details at https://www.facebook.com/events/450890982065291/
#3 – Pre-festival Intensive Workshops – Wednesday, Sept 12th – 9am-4:30pm. Many of the festival performers offer in-depth workshops the day before the festival starts. Bing Futch is teaching mountain dulcimer and Joshua Messick is teaching hammered dulcimer. [Side note: Joshua Messick and I recorded a CD together in 2012!]. Information and registration at https://wvfest.com/events/workshops
#4 – International Competitions – Thursday-Sunday, Sept 13-16. Be sure to check out Stage IV for contests on your favorite instrument. The mountain dulcimer contest is Friday morning and the hammered dulcimer contest is Saturday afternoon. Our own Gary Bell and Eunice Kerbs are both entering the mountain dulcimer competition, so go cheer for them! Information at https://wvfest.com/contests
#5 – Feisty Music Camp for Kids – Friday & Saturday, Sept 14-15 – 1-5pm. Brand new this year, Stage VI (a campground stage in the West campground) is hosting a special interactive music area for the youngest festival attendees (and their families!). I am co-directing the camp, so of course there will be lots of dulcimers! There will be an instrument petting zoo on Friday at 4:00 and mountain dulcimer playing on Saturday at 2:30. I’d love to have club members there for those events, or drop by anytime to check out the happenings. Oh, and sign up all the kids you know! Details at https://wvfest.com/kids
#6 – Campground Jams – Sept 6-16 – all day and all night! The music never stops in the campgrounds. Some favorite spots to check out are Carp Camp (Irish) and Shoo Goo (Old Time) in the West Campground. Lots of great bluegrass pickin’ happens around La La Land, and under the street lights in Pecan Grove. There are also campground stages scattered throughout the grounds – Stage V (Pecan Grove) has performances with a sound system; Stage VI (West) is mostly jamming (plus Feisty Music Camp!); Stage VII (Pecan Grove) is down by the river and is always a raucous place; Stage 11 (Pecan Grove) is just for songwriters.
Whether you’ve been to Winfield every year for as long as you can remember (yep, that’s me), you are checking it out for the first time this year, or you’re still trying to decide if it’s really worth it to go, hopefully this gives you some helpful information. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of festival favorites, so please chime on the Yahoo Group with your suggestions! And now, I’m off to pack… and if you ask me to do something the third weekend in September, my answer will be “I can’t … I’m going to Winfield!”
-Erin Mae, President