Attending your first Carter Family Festival is something you never forget. Now in its’ 40th year, the Carter Family Memorial Music Festival has attracted audiences from around the globe, all of whom come to the Carter Fold for its’ good music, down-home atmosphere, and food – and then leave with an abundance of precious memories. Held August 1st & 2nd, 2014, the Saturday headliner will be Wry Straw!
My first Carter Festival – and for that matter, experience at the Carter Fold – was the 30th Memorial Festival in 2004. I had discovered the Carter Family’s music while attending college and I was absolutely hooked. After graduating, I was extremely surprised and excited to hear that the Carter Family’s home place in Virginia not only still belonged to the family, but that people would drive from miles around to go dancing at this special place known as the Carter Fold. I set off towards southwest Virginia just in time for the 30th festival. As I pulled my truck off of Highway 81 and crept into beautiful Hiltons – in the shadow of the famed Clinch Mountain, no less – it became quite clear to me that I was in a place unlike anywhere else in the world.
The Fold was jam-packed when I walked in, and I considered myself lucky to find a spot in the grass to sit at the very back of the auditorium. I munched on a delicious barbecue sandwich from the concession stand, ate a wild onion I found growing among the grass, and listened throughout the day to the musicians jamming from the porch of the old A.P. Carter store. Then Joe Carter – decked out in his trademark overalls and Navy cap – took the Fold stage and delighted the audience with his imitations of barnyard animals. Janette Carter, founder and matriarch of the Carter Fold, wore a beautiful black dress and received a huge ovation from the crowd. Ever modest, she waved warmly and with a tired, loving smile. Musicians Larry Sigmon and Barbara Poole then gave an incredible performance with their banjo and upright bass instruments while a seemingly endless throng of dancers clogged away on the floor. After Sigmon and Poole’s set finished, Leroy Troy delighted us with the kind of banjo tricks and playing style that would have no doubt made Uncle Dave Macon proud. My last memory of the night is of looking at a beautiful star-lit sky from the old store porch while the Fold’s audience erupted in a singalong of “My Tennessee Mountain Home.”
A lot has changed since then. Janette and Joe Carter are both gone now, as are many of the beloved musicians, volunteers, and fans who have made the Fold such a special place for the past four decades. However, I find myself loving the Carter Fold more and more with each visit. The Fold and its’ accompanying museum have undergone beautiful renovations – including added seating in the Fold’s auditorium. However, the food, admission, and souvenirs remain extremely affordable.
It’s especially exciting to see the newest generation of young musicians and fans who have come along join hands with the generations before them on the stage and on the dance floor. Each time I visit, I marvel at how much passion is present among the Fold’s musicians, fans, and – of course – their amazing volunteers. For me, attending the Carter Fold is like going to church; it’s where I can get recharged and feel completely at home.
Many of you, no doubt, have your own favorite memories of the Carter Family Memorial Music Festivals. As we celebrate 40 years of the Carter Fold, we look forward to the new memories that await us at this year’s festival and beyond. Barry Weber – long-time Fold audience member and volunteer.
In today’s fast-moving world, it’s understandable to be concerned that Appalachian heritage will give way to modern times and be virtually forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives. Fortunately, a visit to the annual Carter Family Festival will convince you otherwise. At the festival, it’s customary to observe a packed dance floor filled with all ages of old-time and bluegrass fans, from young people just breaking into their first clogging shoes all the way to revered veterans showing off a lifetime of buckdancing know-how.
The festival will feature music from both Appalachia’s most renowned performers and its newest break-out mountain music and bluegrass stars, proving that true talent knows no age. Things get started on Friday with a performance by one of Virginia’s most popular bands – Folk Soul Revival. Saturday’s lineup includes performances from the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, Mountain Park Old Time Band, the Whitetop Mountain Band, Wry Straw (featuring John McCutcheon), and the Great Smoky Mountain Cloggers. Both Friday and Saturday will feature performances from Lorrie Carter Bennett – Anita Carter’s daughter – and Ronnie Williams, a longtime friend of the Carter family and the Fold and an accomplished musician and performer. The Whitetop Mountain Band and Wry Straw have been performing since the Fold opened in 1974. They exemplify the strong ties that bind the Carter Fold “family.” Folk Soul Revival demonstrates - as no other band could - the love, respect, and reverence of the mountains of southwest Virginia and all its’ traditions. Their music shows a healthy respect for our area’s musical roots, presenting it in a way that appeals to people of all ages – especially today’s younger generation.
The Carter Family Memorial Music Festival remains true to Janette Carter’s original vision: the festival still proudly boasts “good music and good food” while remaining affordable, familyfriendly, and supportive of traditional mountain music and crafts. Leave your cares behind, and spend a weekend listening to some of the most beautiful and heart-felt music God ever created. In addition to some of the best music and food the region has to offer, there will be lots of craft vendors on hand displaying and selling homemade mountain crafts and treasures. We will have a
pickin’ tent set up for folks who want to jam. Join us for the 40th Carter Family Memorial Festival!
The Carter Family Memorial Music Festival will be held at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia. In 1974, Janette Carter decided to present a festival dedicated to her father, A.P. Carter. Before he died in November, 1960, he asked his daughter to do all she could to see that the Carter Family’s music was never forgotten. She told him Daddy I will try. She did just that, and the Carter Family Memorial Music Center now stands as a tribute to the love and devotion she felt for her father and the music he created.
The very existence of the Carter Memorial Music Festival can be credited to a younger generation honoring the generation before it. Since shows began in 1974, the Carter Fold has earned a reputation as a place for music fans of all ages to congregate, including multiple generations of Carter descendants. Today, the Carter Family Fold is proudly managed by Janette’s daughter, Rita Jett Forrester, who works alongside other Carter descendants, volunteers from around the world, and a dedicated Board of Directors to ensure that the newest generation of young people will discover the wonders of our treasured mountain music.
Janette presented shows of acoustic-only old-time and bluegrass music in the grocery her Dad ran in the 40s and 50s from August, 1974 (and later at the Carter Family Fold), until her death in January, 2006 – devoting the last 32 years of her life to the music center. Despite the fact that she never graduated from high school, Janette Carter established a nonprofit, rural arts organization and a museum. Along the way, she won the NEA’s Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Award. NEA’s highest honor, the award paid tribute to her lifelong advocacy of the performance and preservation of Appalachian music.
This year’s festival is dedicated to the memory of Fred “Skip” Dickerson and Barbara Bryant. Skip married Joe and Nancy Carter’s daughter, Lisa. A loving husband, father, and grandfather, Skip died recently. We ask that you keep Lisa and her family in your prayers. Barbara Bryant is the late wife of James Bryant, Carter Fold board member, volunteer, and long-time sponsor and supporter of the Carter Family Fold. James and Barbara actually married at the Fold, and she supported the Fold for many years – volunteering her time and boundless energy every Saturday night as well as any other time her help was needed. Barbara died last fall, and she is greatly missed by all her family as well as the Fold family.
Tickets are available at the gate only; all seats are festival seating. Tickets are $10 for adults on Friday, $20 for adults on Saturday, or both days $25 for adults. Children’s tickets (ages 6 to 11) are $5 a day; under age 6 free. Gates open at 3:00 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday. Music on the stage gets underway at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night and at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Performing on Friday, August 1, 2014:
Folk Soul Revival
Performing Saturday, August 2, 2014:
Mountain Park Old Time Band
New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters
Whitetop Mountain Band
Wry Straw featuring John McCutcheon
Great Smoky Mountain Cloggers
Performing Friday, August 1, & Saturday, August 2, 2014:
Lorrie Carter Bennett
Carter Family music will open each set – Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night.
Friday’s performance by Folk Soul Revival will feature them on two sets. Saturday’s performers
will do both afternoon and evening sets. The music begins at 6:00 p.m. Friday and lasts until 11:00
p.m. On Saturday, it begins at 3:00 p.m. and runs until 6:00 pm, with a supper break from 6:00 to
7:00 p.m. Saturday evening’s performance starts at 7:00 p.m. and lasts until 11:00 p.m.
Ticket gates and craft and outside food booths open at 3:00 p.m. on Friday and at noon on
Saturday. A homemade quilt will be raffled off and given away during Saturday night’s
performance. The A.P. Carter Cabin Birthplace and the Carter Family Museum will be open from
the time the gates open each day until 8:00 p.m. There will be lots of music and jamming on the
grounds in addition to the scheduled performers inside the Carter Fold. Limited rough camping is
If you’ve ever witnessed a Carter Family Memorial Festival at the Fold, you know you’re going to
have a great time. However, if you’ve never been to one of the annual festivals or the Fold itself,
we encourage you to stop on by, do some dancing, and enjoy our famous mountain hospitality.
After only a few minutes, you will surely agree that the music and traditions of Appalachia are by
no means fading away – they’re stronger than ever.
Visit http://www.carterfamilyfold.org/ for more information, updates and more.