Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Sky Soaked the Ground, But Not Spirits at Annual Appalachian Festival

The weather was dreadful, but spirits remained high at this year’s Appalachian Festival held in Frostburg State University’s upper quad on Sept. 21.

The annual gathering of musicians, performers, bakers, artists, and other craftsmen and women provided locals, travellers, and FSU students with a splash of Appalachian culture despite the scattered showers and gloomy clouds floating in the sky above.

The sweet smell of kettle corn floated through the misty mountain air before the rain picked up. Walking through the upper quad, festival attendees were peppered by sprinkling showers, dotting glasses with small droplets and providing children with the excitement of stepping into shallow puddles.

The festival had a diverse assortment of tents and food shacks for guests to make purchases or enjoy shows. Letting off the traditional smell of Maryland was a Jearbryo’s Hookers Seafood and Grill cart, which let off the tempting scent of crab cakes that lingered in the air. Those looking for more traditional fair food could go to the Bryan’s Classic Hot Dogs cart that provided inexpensive options for the families with kids in tow and the broke college students.

Attendees of the festival still managed to have a good time, despite the undesirable weather. “We got here just in time for the cloud burst,” stated Education Department professor Beth Scarloss while keeping a smile visible on her face.

“I like the additional stages they have this year,” stated attendee Heather Klein with multiple children in tow. Klein continued, “I also like all of the new things for the kids.”

“I like the goats,” added Heather Kein’s daughter, Anastasia Klein. Anastasia Klein was referencing the goat petting zoo that the CaperingKids 4-H Goat Club hosted, as well as their “goat painting” area that allowed the children  to paint their own pictures of goats to splash more color into the gray day.

Bluegrass and country music fell over the festival area as multiple bands performed throughout the day. Named with mountain town flair, acts like “Mountain Therapy,” “The Lickety Split Banjo Boys,” “The Time Travellers,” and “Striped Mountain Hollow” performed with their assorted country instruments. As the audience watched in a hushed, focused manner, the bands played on through rain and shine.

The rain did not stop the musicians, and it certainly did not stop the vendors in the large tents that housed numerous different artists and craftsmen and women selling their assorted products that all had a bit of mountain character that is lacking in more populated areas. As the dark storm clouds rolled across the sky, the rain grew from a sprinkle to a steady flow. From that steady flow, it built to a fast, windy downpour. This sudden escalation of the weather forced everyone in the open to rush into the tents to find shelter. Those who found shelter in the large vendor tents wandered about, browsing crowded outdoor hallways of interesting items.

“I like it when the weather changes. It can be refreshing,” stated Appalachian Festival vendor Kathy Holetje. “I’ve even exceeded my expectations for the day,” she added.

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