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Traditional crafts at Music in the Mountains

Jane Beverage assists festival-goers in making traditional dolls out of corn husks during the Music in the Mountains celebration at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Photo courtesy of David Moore.
Jane Beverage assists festival-goers in making traditional dolls out of corn husks during the Music in the Mountains celebration at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Photo courtesy of David Moore.

Cailey Moore
Staff Writer

An early morning rain did little to deter the young, the old and everyone in between from enjoying themselves at the second annual Music in the Mountains Old-Time Festival on Saturday.

The festival, a celebration of Appalachian craft and culture, brought together local artisans and musicians for an afternoon of family-friendly interactive, “make-it-and-take-it” crafts and demonstrations.

Festival-goers made their way from station to station, partaking in a number of traditional arts, while local musicians joined together for a lively, open stage, old-time jam.

One of those stations was an interactive craft where participants could personalize a coaster, quilted by Marilyn Barton.

“When I retired and I got married, my mother-in-law moved in with us,” she explained, “and I needed something to be creative and get away from all of it, so I started quilting.”

The station also served as a demonstration table for book binder Retta Blankenship.

“I was doing a little bit of it [on my own],” she explained, “and then I went to John C. Campbell Folk School. The [Pocahontas County Artisan] Co-op sponsored me, helped me to be able to afford it, and I took a class.”

The Whirligig was another interactive station frequented by festival-goers. Hosted by Cleva Friel and Brenda Furgeson, the Whirligig – traditionally made with buttons and string – was a wooden disk game played by children in the olden days.

“It’s very simple,” Furgeson explained. “All you need is a big button and a string, and once you’ve decorated it the way you want it, you run your string through the holes in the buttons, tie a knot on the end, and spin it.

“You can have contests with your friends and see who can spin it the longest. The kids have done a great job and made some really beautiful ones.”

In addition to the Whirligig and the coasters, festival-goers were able to make their own corn husk dolls and pot holders with the help of Kathleen Henry and Hillsboro Mayor Anne Walker, respectively.

Among the other artisans at the festival were Cheryl Beverage, who demonstrated the art of basketweaving; Marie Sharp, who handcrafted delicate doilies using a crochet needle and yarn; and Walker, who set up a quilting frame and demonstrated hand-stitching.

During a break from making their own crafts, attendees tried their hand at bringing the Limberjack to life with a dance and enjoyed a variety of goodies – including hand-churned ice cream, homemade apple butter and kettle corn.

Following the afternoon’s festivities, festival-goers were encouraged to partake in a bean and cornbread dinner at 5 p.m., and the night ended with a square dance – with music by Mudhole Control.

The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton.

Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.

The Pocahontas County Artisan Co-op – more than 35 members strong – operates out of the 4th Avenue Gallery of Fine Arts and Crafts and is located at 721 Fourth Avenue in Marlinton.

The Music in the Mountains Old-Time Festival is part of the Cal Price Enrichment Series, sponsored by the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The 2015-16 Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Dramas, Fairs and Festivals.

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