Drawing in families

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION – As the Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival kicks off Friday, organizers have added something extra for their youngest visitors: the chance to make traditional Appalachian crafts.

The three-day spring festival in Sam Michaels Park, a bucolic setting midway between Charles Town and Harpers Ferry, will be the 41st organized by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. A fall Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival is held each September.

Emily Vaughn, who operates Miss Emily Art in Shepherdstown, will offer free, hands-on art activities for young visitors to the Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival. The three-day arts and craft extravaganza begins Friday at Sam Michaels Park near Shenandoah Junction.

Art teacher Emily Vaughn will oversee the free kids crafts area, where children of any age may paint wooden crafts and create old-fashioned quilt squares to be fashioned into a community quilt.

Offering more ways for young people to have fun during the festival simply makes good sense, as a means to ensure festival visitors have a thoroughly enjoyable experience, explains Heather Morgan McIntyre, the chamber’s executive director.

“Having the crafting area inside the rest tent makes it really nice for parents,” McIntyre said. “The parents can sit and relax, eat something or just listen to bluegrass. They appreciate having a few minutes to themselves, knowing their kids are happily occupied just a few steps away.”

Other festival offerings aimed at young people include face painting, a moon bounce and a rock climbing wall.

Vaughn is the founder of the Shepherdstown-based Miss Emily Art, where she offers year-round art classes for young people, summer camp programs, classes for homeschooled students and more.

But the craft tent won’t be the only place where artists will be working Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Because Mountain Heritage requires participating artists to demonstrate their work during the festival, visitors will have lots of opportunities to see artists and crafters hard at work – making paintings, rugs, pottery, baskets, jewelry, toys, dolls, furniture and other goods.

The juried festival typically draws thousands from across the region as well as D.C., Baltimore, New York and other parts of the Northeast and South.

Also on tap at Mountain Heritage: a mini wine festival of West Virginia-made vino. Many visitors to the festival come out specifically to hear hours of bluegrass performances from top regional bands. The festival’s music stage will rotate among Patent Pending, Hillbilly Gypsies, Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie, Nothin’ Fancy, The Stevens Family Bluegrass Band and David Davis & the Warrior River Boys.

Food is another surefire draw to the festival. Many food vendors offer free samples of desserts, pickles, breads, salsas, coffee drinks and other items. For the hungrier, food stands will sell barbecue and other fair favorites.

McIntyre said this year’s festival also will feature two new food vendors, one serving Thai dishes and another dishing up blooming onions and gyro wraps.

Also making their debut at the festival this spring are more than a dozen new artists and crafters as well as a brand-new logo for the festival itself. Gone is the John Henry-esque “mountain man” standing at the anvil; the new logo is sleek, with subtle blue and green images of mountain ranges and the words, “Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival.”

McIntyre said feedback on that change has been positive so far.

Want to Go?

What: The Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Where: Sam Michaels Park, midway between Charles Town and Harpers Ferry

How much: Admission is $7 for adults or $4 for children ages 6 to 17. Younger children get in free.

Get a coupon: To print a coupon for a $1 off regular admission, see the Coupon tab at www.jeffersoncountywvchamber.org/festival/.

More details: For directions or to get a look at all the vendors taking part in the festival, go online to www.jeffersoncounty/festival. For other information on the festival, call 800-624-0577.

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