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Events Across Virginia

Blue Ridge Folk Life Festival

When The New York Times decides that a festival is “truly authentic,” you know it’s not your run of the mill face painting and funnel cake kind of event. Not that there’s anything wrong with deep-fried dough and powdered sugar, but if you’re looking for an even that’s unlike any other, come to the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival.

The term folk might inspire ideas of 1970s acoustic guitar ballads, but folklife has an entirely different meaning. Webster’s defines it as “the traditions, activities, skills, and products (as handicrafts) of a particular people or group.” Add the proper adjective Blue Ridge to the front of the phrase and what you’ve got is a thorough celebration of the traditional way of life of Virginia’s mountain settlers and their descendants.

Local and regional participants have celebrated the roots of the region on the fourth Saturday of October every year for forty years--and what better place to throw down mountain style than at the very epicenter of Blue Ridge history? Ferrum College is home to a living history farm from the 1800s as well as the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum, the official State Center for Blue Ridge Folklore.

Not sure what to expect? Think moonshiners and coon dog races. Forget the craft show of Virginia Tech Christmas ornaments and Pampered Chef booths and stock it up with tobacco-twisted baskets, cane carving, and Appalachian instruments. Listen to traditional whistlers and piano styles, mountain string bands, and all ranges of gospel music—and don’t forget the bluegrass.

If you’re not into crafts or music, you might enjoy the over 300 antique cars, tractors, and piece of farm equipment available for your viewing and oohing and ahhing pleasure.

Some people come just for the food alone, which is along the lines of the best Sunday pot-luck lunch a fellowship hall has ever seen: Brunswick stew and barbecue and ham biscuits and apple butter, oh my! And yes, you can find a funnel cake around these parts. Make sure to wear pants that expand.

Catching a glimpse of the true culture of a region has never been more fun.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Ferrum
Address: 20 Museum Drive, 24088
Telephone: 540-365-4416
Web site:
Cost: Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children (ages 6 - 14), and $5 for senior citizens (60 and over). Children 5 years old and younger are admitted free.
Latitude: 36.924546
Longitude: -80.024225
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