MARLINTON (WVDN) – For lovers of real Appalachian roots music, it was recently announced that the great state of West Virginia will debut a brand-new music festival happening this summer. The Hammons Family Fiddle and Banjo Contests and World Class Jam will take place in Marlinton on Saturday, July 9.
Marlinton is the county seat for Pocahontas County, a remote community located in the beautiful Allegheny Mountains of southeastern West Virginia. Pocahontas County is celebrating its bicentennial year in 2022 with this new music event, which will take place during its Pioneer Days celebration held every second weekend in July since 1967.
This inaugural music festival is dedicated to the legendary Hammons Family who influenced generations of bluegrass and old-time West Virginia musicians from the 1800s to the late 1900s before becoming inductees into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2020.
All musicians are encouraged to enter the fiddle and banjo contests, which begins at 9:30 a.m. on July 9 at the Discovery Junction outdoor venue in downtown Marlinton located next door to the Pocahontas County Opera House. You can register for the contests free online if done before the festival or in person $10 before 9:30 a.m. on the day of the competitions.
After the contest prize winners are handed their $500 checks for their categories, there will be a wonderful free Pioneer Days concert taking place afterwards at Discovery Junction by the legendary Bing Brothers featuring Jake Krack, 1970s and ‘80s bluegrass greats Richard Hefner and the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, and the multiple I.B.M.A. Award Winners Danny Paisley and Southern Grass. There will also be a second Gazebo Stage nearby that will host various performances throughout the day.
The Hammons Family will have a booth open near the event where folks will have a chance to play some of the family’s old, vintage instruments. The current generation of Hammons will happily share more information on their family’s legacy with all who stop in to visit.
The Hammons Family left Kentucky and moved into the backwoods of what was then known as ‘western’ Virginia around 1850, 13 years before West Virginia would become its own state on June 20, 1863. They were intent on keeping the old ways of living and the old musical traditions alive, passing their traditions down through the generations.
The first Hammons Family musician to be recognized by the outside world was fiddler Edden Hammons, who was born in 1874 and was finally recorded by a West Virginia University folklorist in 1947. Years later, the family’s fame spread nationally through a series of field recordings made in the 1970s by musician and folklorist Allen Jabbour, assisted by local musician Dwight Diller, that was supported by the Library of Congress. These recordings were distributed by Rounder Records on a vinyl LP and a beautifully documented CD box set.
All are welcome to join the many jam sessions to be hosted throughout the day on July 9 at various locations in downtown Marlinton. The jams will be led by great musicians such as the aforementioned Danny Paisley, Ryan Paisley, Richard Hefner, Dwight Diller and Mike Bing along with Trevor Hammons, Danny Arthur, Jim Martin, JR Loudermilk. Henry Barnes, Ali Kafki, Kim Johnson, Jake Krack, Mike and Mary Sue Barnes, and others. Some of the open jams will happen at the Cackling Hens parking lot next the Opera House, French’s Diner and inside the historic Richardson Building.
For those that arrive in town by Friday afternoon, downtown Marlinton will turn into a big open-air square dance on Friday evening after the Fireman’s Parade with music provided by Mud Hole Control. If you have more time, Pocahontas County is also known as “Nature’s Mountain Playground,” featuring wonderful places to explore from Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, a unique bowl-shaped valley where Arctic fauna stayed behind after the last Ice Age, to the Falls of Hills Creek and many other adventures.
Primitive camping will be available within walking and driving distance of the events in Marlinton along the Greenbrier River (No hookups but water and port-o-lets and the beauty of the river). There are also area hotels, motels, Airbnb and VRBOs to seek out as well.
More information on the Hammons Family festival and an online contest registration form can be found at tinyurl.com/HammonsFamilyFestival.
To learn more about the Hammons Family, go to wvmusichalloffame.com/hof_hammons.html.
More information on Pioneer Days can be found at facebook.com/PioneerDaysAssociationInc/.
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