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Two of the Leading Organizations Dedicated to Virginia Folklife
Come Together for 41st Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival

For immediate release:
June 1, 2007

Contact: Natalie Faunce, (540) 365-4301
» photo gallery
    The Blue Ridge Institute (BRI) in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is coordinating The Roots of Virginia Culture exhibit at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington D.C., June 27 – July 1 and July 4 – July 8th. For the first time, Virginia is the featured state. Several artisans, craftspeople, artists, workers and performers from Southwest Virginia will be in attendance demonstrating, performing, and talking about their skills from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day.

     Some of the artisans in attendance include Danny Wingate from Elk Creek, VA. Danny, who was born and raised in Grayson County, learned how to do leatherwork at a young age, and today is one of the few people in this region that can do harness and leather repair. Billy Phelps, of Woodlawn, VA will also be there demonstrating his blacksmith work. Billy started as a farrier (a person who shoes horses) in 1972, but in the early 1980’s, changed to only doing repair work and ornamental work. Today, Billy’s work is sought out by architects and collectors as well as neighbors who need an item repaired. A photo of Billy’s work can be seen at

     On the evening of July 5th, there will be a Mountain Music Concert sponsored by the BRI and Ferrum College. The concert is free to the public and will start at 5:30pm. Several of the bands that will perform come from the region of The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail that connects major heritage music venues in the Appalachian region. They include, “The New North Carolina Ramblers,” out of Danville, VA, “The Spiritual 7” from Franklin County, VA, and Ron Short from Big Stone Gap, VA. Ron, a singer, musician, and songwriter, was born near Clintwood, VA in the heart of the Virginia Appalachian coalfields and grew up listening to the music of his large and extended family. This music was not only the music that came from England and Ireland, but also of the southern and eastern Europeans, as well as the African Americans that came to work in the fields. This, along with the influences of radio and television makes Ron’s musical background and presentation as diverse as the region he comes from.

     The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is held annually outdoors on the National Mall between 7th and 14th Streets near the Smithsonian. Along with distinctively American traditions, the Festival will be highlighting traditions of the Mekong River and Northern Ireland. Admission is free. Daily events run from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; evening events run from 5:30 to 9 p.m. For more information visit or call 202-633-1000.

    Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor’s degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges. For more information on Ferrum, visit



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