This bluegrass and old-time music festival honors banjo-playing prodigy and rising star of traditional music, Houston Caldwell, who sadly passed away at age eighteen in 2010. Houston was featured on many Virginia Folklife stages and recordings over the years, beginning when he was eleven years old.
Workshops: Jon Lohman, director of VFH’s Virginia Folklife Program, leads workshops about the musical tradition of the region with participating performers in both bluegrass and old time music.
Houston Caldwell Music Scholarships: As part of HoustonFest, each year scholarships are awarded to deserving youth and grants are given to nonprofit traditional music programs in the region. During the first three years of the festival, HoustonFest awarded twenty-five scholarships and seven grants.
Regional Luthiers: A special area of the festival is dedicated to the instrument makers of southwestern Virginia.
Three Stages: The festival is dedicated to showcasing the best of bluegrass, old time, and youth music. More than thirty regional and international artists participate.
Camp Houston: A unique part of the festival is the Camp Houston state which focuses on youth music and activities. An instrument petting zoo allows novice players to try different traditional instruments with the assistance of friendly professionals.