1st Annual Northern Appalachian Folks Fest –a success!

precious memories play

Festivities began Thursday night at the Indiana Theater with a 7 p.m. performance by folk and bluegrass musician Gordon Glen. At 7:30 p.m., nationally recognized musician and activist Sue Massek is to take the stage for a one-woman musical titled “Precious Memories.

Don’t forget to check out the whole weekends line-up of music, food, and workshops – from bee-keeping to social justice – we start with the Puppet Parade from the Artists Hand on Friday.


Folk festival opened Thursday in Indiana
September 01, 2013 1:50 AM

When people think of Appalachia, it’s often regions of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee that come to mind.

But Pennsylvania, southern New York and eastern Ohio are just as much a part of Appalachia, rich with their own history and cultural traditions. It’s that history and those traditions that IUP’s Jim Dougherty and others are hoping to showcase through the inaugural Northern Appalachian Folk Festival, to be held later this week in downtown Indiana.

The festival, led by a committee of more than a dozen people, is to feature a mix of music, theater, art and educational workshops.

The point, Dougherty said, is to celebrate the region’s culture, its history and the significant contributions it’s made to the country. And there are many, he said.

The area represented the frontier for a young America. The natural resources harvested here, things like timber, coal and natural gas, helped to fuel its growth. Also, it played important roles in the rise of the labor movement. And it can claim connections to the beginning of the modern-day environmental movement, he said.

Dougherty said the festival is an outgrowth of the Appalachian Studies Association’s annual academic conference, which was held at IUP in 2012, the first time the conference took place somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Dougherty said.

In holding the conference here, the association opened up a new market for itself and allowed IUP faculty and the university’s own Center for Northern Appalachian Studies, of which Dougherty is the director, to forge new connections with people and groups interested in Appalachia studies. So to maintain those connections and to foster new ones, Dougherty and others decided to organize the folk festival.

Dougherty said he hasn’t had difficulty in selling the idea to the community. Many are embracing it, including the Indiana Arts Council, which is keen on having a successor to the former New Growth Arts Festival, he said.

Festivities begin Thursday evening at the Indiana Theater with a 7 p.m. performance by folk and bluegrass musician Gordon Glen. At 7:30 p.m., nationally recognized musician and activist Sue Massek is to take the stage for a one-woman musical titled “Precious Memories.”

The musical, written by another folk festival headliner, Si Kahn, tells the story of Sarah Ogan Gunning, who wrote songs about the coal fields of eastern Kentucky in the 1930s.

The performance is free, but organizers have suggested a $5 donation.

On Friday, activities opened with a 5 p.m. puppet parade from The Artists Hand Gallery along Philadelphia Street to the festival’s outdoor stage at Sixth and Philadelphia streets. The puppets, which are being put together this weekend under the direction of Brian Jones, the gallery’s general partner, are meant to embody aspects of folk and Appalachia.

Those interested in helping to make puppets for the parade have been invited to stop by the gallery on Monday.

Following the parade, there was a variety of musical acts beginning at 6 p.m. Food stands will be open, and new performances begin on the hour. The last performance starts at 9 p.m.

Musical entertainment continued throughout Saturday, with new performers taking the stage at the top of each hour. Massek takes the stage at 4 p.m.; Kahn is to appear at 8 p.m.

There was also community workshops on various topics such as beekeeping, songwriting, edible weeds, soap-making and recycling. Those are taking place throughout the day at The Coney, Spaghetti Benders, the Brown Hotel and outside at the festival site.

In addition, a children’s area being called Kids’ Alley was set up. It will featured games, music and arts and crafts.

For more information, or for a complete schedule of events, log on to northernappfolkfest.org.

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Learn about local crafts, and save the planet at the NAFF Workshops

Here’s a schedule of our confirmed workshops for this year’s Northern Appalacian Folk Fest.

Click here for the complete listing.






11:00 -11:45

Bee keeping

Dick Farbaugh / Bill Stancombe

Near “Children’s Alley”

11:00 -12:00

Edible Weeds

Cindy Rogers

Meet at the stage

Brown Hotel

12:00 -12:45

Songwriting 101

Si Kahn

Brown Hotel

1:00 – 1:45

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Tina Palmer, Coordinator, GMO Action Network, TBD

Brown Hotel

2:00 – 2:45

“Dreams of Hope” Organization Will – Project QAMP!, a summer camp for LGBTQ and allied youth ages 13-19

Susan Haugh

Brown Hotel

3:00 – 3:45

Multicultural Music


Brown Hotel

Spaghetti Benders

12:00 – 12:45

Soap Making

Deb Beisel

Spaghetti Benders

1:00 – 1:45

Appalachian women’s Music

Sue Massek

Spaghetti Benders

2:00 – 2:45&


Film: Roots and Hollers

Spaghetti Benders

3:00 – 3:45

Eco friendly Rain Barrels – Storm water and ways to help mitigate water problems. Win a rain barrel!

Master gardeners/ community gardens

Spaghetti Benders

The Coney Upstairs

12:00 – 12:45

Picture Perfect, Recreating Memories in 3D computer generated coal town sites

Marion Smeltzer

Coney upstairs

1:00 – 1:45

Indiana County Archaeology: Flintknapping and Cordage Making

Sarah Neusius

Coney up stairs

2:00 – 2:45

Musicians United To Protect Bristol Bay – A model for collective action by grassroots and community musicians, and find out what YOU can do.

Si Kahn

Coney up stairs

3:00 – 3:45

Underground Railroad Passport to Freedom, the Blairsville Underground railroad