Workshops, Activities and Excursions

Interested in Participating in 2017? Inquire via our Contact Page

The Northern Appalachian Folk Festival holds a variety of free workshops throughout the weekend on topics of regional interest. Most workshops are suitable for all-ages, do not require pre-registration and are held at various downtown locations. Visitors can also enjoy excursions, films and friendly competitions. Click here for full festival schedule (subject to change). Find us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and announcements.

2016 Activities and Workshop Topics

Appalachian History and The Natural World

• Searching for Wehrle’s Salamander:
A Journey to the Hidden World of Appalachian Salamanders
11:30AM Saturday, September 10 | Spaghetti Benders 563 Philadelphia Street
Ed Patterson (Director, Indiana County Parks and Trails)
Wehrle was considered to be the first “naturalist” in Indiana County.  He discovered a salamander that was unique to western PA and the Appalachian region as a whole.  Because of this discovery it was officially named after him.  He owned a jewelry store that was located in the building currently occupied by Wolfendale’s bar and restaurant — Wehrle’s name is still on the building.

Woodland Indians of Pennsylvania
10:00AM Saturday, September 10 | Spaghetti Benders 563 Philadelphia Street
Robert Millward
How Woodland Indians lived, hunted and used their handmade tools to survive

• You Are Living in Appalachia
2PM Saturday, September 10 | First Commonwealth Bank 600 Philadelphia Street
Dr. Jim Dougherty
Retired Director of the IUP Center for Northern Appalachian Studies
Why do many of this regions rivers, towns, and mountains have Native American names and there are virtually no Native Americans to be found?  What happened to the Native Americans?  Why did the two superpowers of the 18th century – Great Britain and France – struggle over control of the region?  What was the central location of the largest citizens’ uprising against the newly formed United States prior to the Civil War? How were the regions natural resources developed?  Who were some of the leading industrialists from the region?  Which major city in the region has the distinction of being called “The Paris of Appalachia?”  How did the region contribute to the Industrial Revolution?  How and why was the region’s economy transformed in the late 20th century?  What new economic forms are emerging today? By providing answers to these and other questions Dr. Jim Dougherty will introduce workshop participants to the many cultural and historical contributions residents of the Northern Appalachian region have made to the nation and nation building. Come out if you’re interested in finding out more about the area in which you are living—whether it’s music, moonshine, art, coal mining or trees!

•  The History of the United Mine Workers of America Through Music and Storytelling
2PM Saturday, September 10 | Brown Hotel 103 N. Sixth Street
singer songwriter Tom Breiding
Following his workshop, Tom will also perform 3:30PM on Stage TBA

•  Hiking The Appalachian Trail
4:45PM Saturday, September 10 | Brown Hotel 103 N. Sixth Street
Gary and Millie Buffington
In 2000 Gary and Millie Buffington walked all of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, a total of 2,158 miles.  They will discuss the trail and answer questions for an hour.  They are known on the trail as “Bear Bag” and “Sweet Pea the Trail Boss.”

• Adventure Learning
1:00PM Sunday, September 11 | Spaghetti Benders 563 Philadelphia Street
Abbie Adams, PhD
The Adventure Learning project will combine using GeoCache to explore historical locations along a walking trail with links to oral histories of local people related to the specific site or the broader historical context.

Home and Garden

• Chickens 101: Learning How to Raise Chickens
Homestead Phil and Jenn of  Rent the Chicken
3:30PM Saturday, September 10 | Brown Hotel 103 N. Sixth Street

Introduction to Vermicomposting / Indoor Composting with Worms
2:45PM Sunday, September 11 | Brown Hotel 103 N. Sixth Street
Dana Driscoll
This family-friendly workshop introduces participants to the basics of vermicomposting, or composting indoors in a small bin using worms. Vermicomposting is odor free and ecologically friendly way to compost table scraps and paper products and turn them into extremely nutrient rich natural fertilizer! The workshop include a hands-on demonstration of how to create your worm bin (for less than $20), what kind of worms to use in your bin, how to maintain your bin, what to compost, and more.  The presenter will have some extra red wiggler worms available for those who want to start their own worm composting bin.

The Arts

•  Ken Waldman
Alaskan poet and storyteller will conduct a writers’ workshop 6:30-8:30PM Wednesday, September 8 at Indiana Free Library as part of a nearly weeklong visit to Indiana. Click here to learn more about Ken’s visit and his free, IUP Lively Arts-sponsored concert.

•  Weaving and Jewelry Making Chere Winnek-Shawer
2:00PM Saturday, September 10 | Spaghetti Benders 563 Philadelphia Street
Chere Winnek-Shawer will demonstrate her approach to weaving and jewelry making

• A SPATE of Folk, an Outbreak of Theater
2:30PM Saturday, September 10 | Indiana Theater 637 Philadelphia Street
Brian Jonesprofessor of theater and the resident scenery and lighting designer for the Department of Theater and Dance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania
“Get your folk on.  What is “folk?”  Join IUP’s SPATE company in a safe and fun audience-interactive session exploring the many definitions and ideas we hold dear about “folk” and “Appalachia.”  Directed by IUP’s director of Applied Theater, Rachel Jackson, the *SPATE company uses theater in a wide variety of non-traditional contexts for education and social development—health care, politics, museums, social service agencies, and business and industry. (*“SPATE” stands for Simulated Patient and Applied Theater Ensemble).”

Contemporary Issues

The Current State of the Drug Crisis in Western Pennsylvania:
Indiana County, a Case Study
Saturday, September 10 • 10:00AM-11:00AM • Indiana Theater 637 Philadelphia Street
Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty
This talk on the local drug problem leads off a trio of workshops centered on drug abuse, prevention and recovery. 
Narcan Training
Saturday, September 10 • 11:15AM-12:15PM • Indiana Theater 637 Philadelphia Street
Carrie Bence, Deputy Director and Certified Prevention Specialist with the 
Armstrong, Indiana, Clarion, Drug and Alcohol Commission

Alice Paul House: Victimization Through Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Saturday, September 10 • 12:30PM-1:30PM • Indiana Theater 637 Philadelphia Street
Alice Paul House Community Resource Coordinator Whitney Mottorn
Alice Paul House Executive Director Audia Boyles
Workshop discusses victimization and how it relates to drug and alcohol addictions.


Frack Water Injection Wells and Their Impact on a Community:
Grant Township, Indiana County PA: a Case Study
1PM Sunday, September 11 | Brown Hotel 103 N. Sixth Street
Judy Wanchism, Coordinator of the East Run Hellbenders Society
Ms. Wanchism and representatives from the East Run Hellbenders Society will present on how they are responding to a proposal to have a frack water injection well placed near their community.


• Roots and Hollers documentary about harvesting wild ginseng in Appalachia

• “The Struggle for An American Way of Life: Coal Miners and Operators in Central Pennsylvania, 1919-1933”
Shown by WIUP.
• 8PM Wednesday, September 7
• 8PM Thursday, September 8
• 8PM Friday, September 9

Also, The Jimmy Stewart Museum will screen 1965 Civil War-set drama, Shenandoah as its weekend matinee. 1PM Saturday and Sunday

Interactive Performance

•  SPATE (Simulated Patient and Applied Theater Ensemble)
12:30PM Saturday, September 10 | Main Stage
Rachel Jackson, IUP’s director of Applied Theater
“Theater students from IUP’s SPATE company entertain and enlighten with improvisational responses to audience prompts.  Audience members are invited to participate from the edge of the stage, or sometimes on stage, with actors trained to replay their thoughts. Directed by IUP’s director of Applied Theater, Rachel Jackson, the SPATE company uses theater in a wide variety of non-traditional contexts for education and social development—health care, politics, museums, social service agencies, and business and industry”


Indiana County Historical Society  – On your own/self-guided
Saturday September 10th 10:30 am – 3:00 pm
621 Wayne Ave. Indiana, PA 15701
Phone: 724-463-9600
Exhibitions on the history of Western Pennsylvania that illuminate the past and enlighten the present. Permanent displays and a variety of changing exhibits explain how this community grew and what its people have done. New exhibition topics include: the history of baseball in Indiana County, and world renowned environmental writer/author Edward Abbey, who was born and raised in Indiana County. Also on view: “Works of Art in Indiana PA Glass.” This exhibit shows many glass pieces manufactured by the company most commonly referred to as Indiana Glass. Permanent exhibits include coal mining; farm and home; Native Americans; and an old doctor’s office and medical instruments display.

Hoodlebug  Fall Fest
Sunday September 11th
Neighboring Homer City hosts the annual one-day Fall Fest Sunday, September 11. So visitors can take in both festivals, a bike ride  is tentatively planned via the Hoodlebug Trail, which links our  communities. Check back for details

Friendly Competition

Click here to learn about our Storytellers and Liars Contest
3PM Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Coney (642 Phila. St.)/Rodney Taylor, Coordinator


on Philadelphia Street
5PM Friday | Noon and 5PM Saturday | Noon Sunday

Yoga returns to the fourth Northern Appalachian Folk Festival with sessions for both adults and children. Ed Stancomb will lead the classes which are free to the public. “Early morning yoga assists in reducing stress and helps one develop a positive attitude toward the experiences of everyday life,” says Ed.