Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Appalachian Festival

This weekend Frostburg State University hosted the eighth annual Appalachian Festival lasting from September 19 to the 21. The festival began Thursday with a film festival in Compton Science Center. On Friday, the Appalachian Symposium started and addressed social justice in Appalachia. The festival came to an end on Saturday with daytime music and activities filling the upper quad.

The weather on Saturday was gloomy with continuous rainfall, and a bit of a chill with temperatures in the low 60s. However, the rain did not ruin the festival. Joe Duffey during his Irish dance performance commented, “I really enjoy the atmosphere of this event even though it’s raining.” For patrons willing to brave the rain, the Appalachian festival entertained and delighted guests with dance, musical performances, shopping, food, and even a petting zoo.

Under the Folkways Tent, most of the performances focused on dancing. The Joe Duffey Dance Company with the musical accompaniment of Old Pitch were on stage around 1 p.m. Joe Duffey Dance is comprised of 4 members: Joe Duffey, Laura Hoelzer, Hannah Kuhn, and Jessie Lindenkohl. Just 2 months ago, the modern Irish dance group began, and the Appalachian Festival was their first gig. While Joe Duffey performed at last year’s event with Old Pitch, this was the first year with the girls involved. Loud, synchronized, rhythmic stomps filled the ears of viewers.

The Joe Duffey Dance Company can be seen performing on the stage under the white tent with musical accompaniment from Old Pitch beneath the yellow tent in the back.

The tapping alone of the group’s shoes could have been considered as music, but acted like an additional instrument in the band playing traditional Irish folksongs. The band Old Pitch has 4 members: Kelly DeButts, Jeff Thomas, Pat Egan, and Tabby Fitch. Traditionally, the term “old pitch” is associated with the key of B. In Irish music, the key of B is not often used. This band, however, utilizes the key. Kelly plays in B as well as D on the pipes, and Jeff follows suit playing in the B key with a custom-built concertina.

One of the highlights of the festival was the food. In the middle of upper quad, Jearbroy’s Hookers Seafood and Grill, a restaurant located in Deep Creek, had a food trailer. A big hit with students and guests were their crab cakes. Meghan Dolon a Frostburg State University student was skeptical about trying the seafood at first. After having one of their crab cakes though Meghan thought, “they taste just like they’re from the beach.”

An unusual sight for students, goats grazed in front of the Guild building. Part of 4-H, the Capering Kid goat club was set up to raise donations. Anyone could pet the goats, and even go inside the pens to interact with the animals. One Frostburg student, Ty Tillman when talking about the goats said, “They have a distinct smell. I kinda like it.” Ty may be disappointed to find out the goats will not be a permanent fixture to the upper quad, but next year there may be another opportunity to see and smell the goats again.

This year’s Appalachian Festival was a hit, and hopefully this festival will continue to be an annual event. To find out more about Joe Duffey Dance visit their website at Jearbryo’s Hookers Seafood and Grill can be reached at 301-387-7667. 

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