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News Review
MECC to Host 43rd Annual Home Craft Days Festival
Posted Date: 10/17/2014
Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will once again welcome thousands of visitors to the campus this fall for the 43rd Annual Home Craft Days Festival held Oct. 17-19.
Celebrating the rich music, culture, and artistry of Southwest Virginia, the Home Craft Days Festival features demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, grist milling, wood crafting, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, tatting and much more.
Home Craft Days“After forty-four years, I can honestly say that the Home Craft Days Festival gets bigger and better each year,” said Festival Organizer and MECC Dean of Workforce Development Sue Ella Boatright-Wells. “We have our artists, musicians and food vendors that people have come to love and anticipate, some of whom have been at every festival since the beginning. But we also offer new crowd pleasers that keep the festival alive and growing. It’s just a wonderful event.”
The festival will kick off Friday, Oct. 17 with a free concert featuring Ed Snodderly, Dale Jett & Hello Stranger, The Kessingers, Steve Lewis Trio, and the Craver, Hicks, Watson & Newberry Band. The concert will begin at 6 p.m. in Phillips-Taylor Hall, Goodloe Center.
The 2014 festival will feature the addition of several free music workshops to be held Saturday, October 18 and Sunday, October 19. The workshops will be led by some of the region’s premier musicians, including Dexter Ramey, Corbin Hayslett, Dale Jett, and many more. Participants must register for the workshops by Tuesday, October 14 by calling 276.523.2400 ext. 464.
Craft and food vendors will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s music schedule includes featured performers: Todd Meade, Debbie Adams, & Beth Bailey; Wise Jams programs; Patti and Glenn Roberts with Darrel Stapleton; Mountain Music String Band; Craver, Hicks, Watson, Newberry Band; New Harvest Gospel; Bill McCall & Southern Country; Railsplitters; Randy and Debra Jean Sheets; Richard Phillips & Friends; Scott County Boys & Center Stage Cloggers; Kelsey Copeland; Dale Jett & Hello Stranger; Anndrena Belcher & the Wild Boys; Wolfe Brothers and Center Stage; Rich and the Po’ Folk; Jimmy and Ada McCown; Empty Bottle String Bad; Blue Ridge Entertainers; Mountain Grace; Crooked Road Ramblers & Center Stage Cloggers; and Sycamore Holler.
Sunday’s music schedule includes: Rich Kirby and Tommy Bledsoe; Misery Creek; George Reynolds; Poplar Hill Reunion; Buttermilk Girls; Angelyn DeBoard; Pam Randolph & Doug Dorschug; Poor Valley Girls; Fred O’Quinn and the Bluegrass Travelers with Center Stage Cloggers; George Gibson; Lee Smith Family Singers; Corbin Hayslett; White Top Mountain Band and Center Stage Cloggers: Brandon Maggard; Papa Joe Smiddy/Reedy Creek; Lee Sexton; Big Daddie Banjer and the Hurdy Gurdy Girls; Charlie Engle and Son; and the Town Branch Bluegrass Band.
Workshops will include:
• Autoharp with Dexter Ramey on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in Godwin Hall, Room 130. Dexter will teach the beginning basics of playing the autoharp for singing accompaniment including holding and tuning the instrument, chording, and rhythmic strumming. Students will practice the techniques by playing songs. The instructor will conclude the workshop with techniques for playing the melody on the autoharp bridging the beginning player to intermediate.
• Banjo Styles of Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky with Corbin Hayslett on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in Godwin Hall, Room 149. Corbin Hayslett will present regional banjo styles of clawhammer, two-finger, and three-finger varieties including the styles of Dock Boggs, Scott Boatright, Roscoe Holcomb, Lee Sexton, Morgan Sexton, Ralph Stanley, and Lawrence Russell. The presentation will discuss the details and varieties of regional banjo playing and their histories, featuring demonstrations and instruction on separate styles and pieces.
• Beginning Fiddle with Cori Brown James on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in Godwin Hall, Room 118. The beginner workshop will provide history of mountain fiddle and instruction for those interested in how to play fiddle. In the two-hour workshop, students will learn the basics of fiddle playing, all the parts and functions of the fiddle and bow, and will work on beginner- old time fiddle tunes. The workshop is a great opportunity for those that have never played as well as those with minimal experience (minimal experience being only knowing a few tunes).
• Songwriting with Kay Elliott, Cyndee Harr, and Dale Jett on Saturday, October 18, 2014, from 10 a.m. to noon in Godwin Hall, Room 155. Musician / songwriters Kay Elliott, Cyndee Harr, and Dale Jett will perform songs they have written and share tips and techniques for songwriting. The first six students to register for the workshop will be contacted for submitting the lyrics and a recording of one original composition a week before the workshop. The workshop instructors will ask the student to perform the original song during the second hour of the workshop. Instructors will offer suggestions for enhancing the songs of the six students.
• Beginning Folk Singing with Rhodyjane Meadows on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Godwin Hall, Room 130. Meadows will teach folk singing by ear in the traditional manner of shape-note singing school instructors using hand symbols to teach pitches.

Admission is FREE to all the festival events. MECC is located on US Route 23 just south of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Parking and shuttles for the festival will be offered at five locations in Big Stone Gap. Shuttle rides are $1 per person at boarding. Locations include:
• Union High School (formerly Powell Valley High School) - Front Parking Lot
• Curbside, Wood Ave, in Front of Food City
• Curbside, Municipal Parking Lot behind Post Office/Federal Building
• Country Inn
• Comfort Inn
For more information on the event, including a detailed schedule of vendors and musicians, visit the Home Craft Days website at