Folklife Program to Celebrate Youth “Tradition Bearers” and the Masters Who Taught Them

Folklife Program

The Church Sisters perform on the midway. Photos from the 78th Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention taken at Felt's Park in Galax on Monday, August 5, 2013. Galax is the oldest and largest fiddlers convention in the United States.  Photo by Pat Jarrett

The Church Sisters perform on the midway at the 78th Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention. Photo by Pat Jarrett.

RICHMOND, Va. – Fans of the Richmond Folk Festival may notice a bit of a younger vibe at the Virginia Folklife Area this year. While the Virginia Folklife Program will continue to celebrate longstanding masters, the 2015 theme, “Youth Will Be Served,” spotlights a younger generation faithful to their traditions while infusing them with their own spirit.

“Some of these artists were raised up in these traditions; others have come to them more recently, in the hope of reviving and preserving traditional ways of life in an increasingly digital age,” said State Folklorist Jon Lohman.

The lineup includes a wide array of artists, including jaw dropping pickers from the hills of Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, awe inspiring singers from Virginia’s churches and places of worship and energetic dancers from around the globe who keep their traditions thriving in Virginia.

The 2015 Virginia Folklife Stage Performers include:

  • Anhayla (R&B)
  • Ash Breeze (Bluegrass/Country)
  • Bud’s Collective (Bluegrass)
  • The Church Sisters (Bluegrass Gospel)
  • Close Kin (Youth OldTime/ Bluegrass Project)
  • Danny Knicely (Bluegrass and OldTime MultiInstrumentalist)
  • Frank Newsome (Old Regular Baptist a cappella Gospel)
  • Harold Mitchell (InstrumentContest Emcee)
  • Johnny and Jeanette Williams (Bluegrass)
  • The Ingramettes, in loving memory of Maggie Ingram (Gospel)
  • Sammy Shelor (Bluegrass Banjo)
  • Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra, feat. Andrei Saveliev and Aaron Mott (Russian Folk Music)
  • Wayne Henderson (Luthier and Guitar Player and Maker)
  • Zion’s Voice Community Youth Choir (Gospel)

The crafts demonstration area will feature many young tradition bearers upholding time-honored crafts, from furniture making and instrument building to more underground activities, such as making good old mountain moonshine.

Craft Area Demonstrators include:

  • Guitar and Fiddle Making with Jackson Cunningham
  • Traditional Chair Making with Sean “Purl” Samoheyl
  • Mongolian Dance and Mask Making with Gankhuyag Natsag and Zana Gankhuyag
  • Moonshine Still Demonstration with Jimmy and Jared Boyd
  • Oyster Shucking with Shucking Champions Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd
  • Salt Making with Jim and Baron Bordwine
  • Traditional and Historic Photography with Richard Pippin and Melissa Jones

Additional Virginia Folklife artists and performers will be announced later this summer.

The Virginia Folklife Program, a public program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is the state center for the documentation, presentation, and support of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage.

The Virginia Folklife Area is cosponsored by Union Bank and Trust and University of Richmond. Other sponsors of the festival include Altria, Dominion, The Community Foundation, CarMax, Genworth, the Richmond Times Dispatch/, MWV, New Market Corporation, VCU and VCU Health System, and Loveland.

In its 11th year, the Richmond Folk Festival remains the most popular event of its kind in the country. The threeday festival is free to the public and draws upwards of 100,000 people to the downtown Richmond riverfront annually. To learn more about the Richmond Folk Festival visit

About the Virginia Folklife Program

The Virginia Folklife Program, a public program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is the state center for the documentation, presentation, and support of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. Whether sung or told, handcrafted or performed, Virginia’s rich folklife refers to those “arts of everyday life” that reflect a sense of traditional knowledge and connection to community. Visit for more information.

About Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities connects people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. VFH, established in 1974, encourages discovery and connection through the humanities by supporting and producing programs for a wide public audience. For more information about VFH, visit

About The Richmond Folk Festival

The Richmond Folk Festival is one of Virginia’s largest events, drawing visitors from all over the country to downtown Richmond’s historic riverfront. The Festival is a FREE threeday event that got its start as the National Folk Festival, held in Richmond from 20052007. In the tradition of the “National,” the Richmond Folk Festival features excellent performing groups representing a diverse array of cultural traditions on seven stages. The festival includes continuous music and dance performances, a Virginia Folklife Area featuring ongoing demonstrations, an interactive Family Area produced by the Children’s Museum of Richmond, a folk art marketplace, regional and ethnic foods, festival merchandise and more. More information is available at

About Venture Richmond

The Festival is produced by Venture Richmond, in a continuing partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the City of Richmond, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the National Park Service, The American Civil War Center, and the Children’s Museum of Richmond. Venture Richmond is a nonprofit organization formed to engage business and community leaders in partnering with the City to enhance the vitality of the community, particularly Downtown, through economic development, marketing, promotion, advocacy and events. Venture Richmond also produces such longstanding and signature community events as Easter on Parade, Friday Cheers, RVA Fireworks on the James, and the 2nd Street Festival, and partners with the Richmond Sportsbackers to coproduce Dominion Riverrock. For more information visit

About the National Council for the Traditional Arts

The National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the presentation and documentation of folk and traditional arts in the United States. Founded in 1933, it is the nation’s oldest folk arts organization. The NCTA presents the nation’s very finest traditional artists in festivals, tours, international cultural exchanges, workshops, demonstrations and exhibitions, media productions, school programs, and other activities. It works in partnership with communities across America to establish new, sustainable traditional arts events that deliver lasting social, cultural and economic benefits. For more about the NCTA, visit www.nctausa. org.