Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase

Sammy Shelor at the 2011 Apprenticeship Showcase

The Virginia Folklife Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) will present its ninth annual Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase on Sunday, September 16th, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the VFH Conference Center.

The Folklife Apprenticeships pair an experienced master artist with an apprentice for a one-on-one, nine-month learning experience, in order to ensure that a particular art form is passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. This year’s showcase will feature masters of a wide range of traditional music styles, including National Heritage Award Winning Guitar Maker Wayne Henderson, legendary banjo player Sammy Shelor, blues singer Gaye Adegbalola of Saffire: the Uppity Blues Women, as well as the bluegrass band Loose Strings from Galax, and masters of Chickahominy and Mongolian dance.

“I’m really excited about this year’s apprenticeship teams,” said Jon Lohman, Director of the Virginia Folklife Program. “We’re working with incredibly accomplished musicians and crafts men and women who all wish to pass along these vitally important art forms to their apprentices.”

Other featured crafts include real Brunswick stew, fried apple pies, artisanal cheese, instruments makers, an oyster shucking competition, and shoe cobblers. Participants in this year’s showcase attest to the remarkable range and diversity of folk traditions in Virginia.

Celebrating the completion of the 2011–2012 Virginia Folklife Apprenticeships:

  • Master Banjo player Sammy Shelor of Patrick County and apprentice Ashley Nale of Galax
  • Master Cobbler David Young and apprentice Yvonne Young of Waynesboro
  • Master of Oyster Aquaculture Dudley Biddlecomb of Northumberland County and apprentice Peter Hedlund
  • Master Cheesemaker Gail Hobbs-Page of Albemarle County and apprentice Kyle Kilduff
  • Master Shape Note Singers John del Re and Kelly Macklin of Clarke County and apprentices John Alexander and Diane Ober of Charlottesville
  • Master Autoharp maker and player John Hollandsworth and apprentice Sam Gleaves of  Montgomery County
  • Master Mongolian Mask Maker Gankhuyag Natsag and apprentice Zanabazar Gankhuyag of Arlington County
  • Master Caribbean Carnival Costume Maker Earl Blake and apprentice Scottie Blake of Hampton

Introducing the 2012–2013 Master Folk Artists and their apprentices:

  • Master Guitar Maker Wayne Henderson of Grayson County and apprentice Jayne Henderson
  • Master Blues Singer Gaye Adegbalola of Fredericksburg and apprentice Lorie Strother of Waynesboro
  • Master Chickahominy Dancer Jessica Stewart and apprentice Vanessa Adkins of Charles City County
  • Master Dulcimer Maker Walter Messick of Grayson County and apprentice Chris Testerman
  • Master of Job-shop Letterpress Printing Garrett Queen of Charlottesville and apprentice Lana Lambert
  • Master Instrument Contest Emcee Harold Mitchell of Galax and apprentice Dale Morris of Grayson County
  • Master Stone Mason David Conroy of Montgomery County and apprentice Mark Smith of Pulaski County
  • Master of Clawhammer Banjo and Moonshine Stories Jimmy Boyd of Franklin County and apprentice Jared Boyd of Carroll County
  • Master Gunsmith Wallace Gusler of Williamsburg and apprentice Bruce Larson

The Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase is free and open to the public and will take place at the VFH, off 250 West (Ivy Road) in the Boar’s Head Inn Complex. For more information, call 434-924-3296 or visit

The Folklife Apprenticeship Program is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and is an initiative of the Virginia Folklife Program, which documents, presents, and supports Virginia’s living cultures, traditions, and folkways. The program was recognized in 2011 by the Federation of State Humanities Councils with the Schwartz Prize, the highest honor for outstanding work in the public humanities. The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities encourages discovery and connection through the humanities by supporting and producing programs for a wide public audience.