Culture, History, and Entertainment: 2017 Appalachian Festival
This article was cowritten by TBL writers Victoria Costa and Latisha Lewis.
On Saturday, Sept. 16, students and community members alike joined together to enjoy a day filled with fun, food, handmade goods, and more. With tents scattered across the upper quad of Frostburg State University, various businesses showcased themselves at this year’s annual Appalachian Festival.
Starting with the “Capering Kids Goat Club,” it was clear their petting zoo attracted a ton of traffic. Involving around six dairy goats, this Allegany County based club promoted their association to the general public. As a branch of the national organization, 4-H, Carol Manger, the leader of the club explained, “In 4-H Goat Club, the kids can age from 5 to 18 years old. 4-H has a lot of different clubs such as livestock clubs, horse clubs, archery clubs, craft clubs, and more. Pretty much anything anyone wants to do.” In this particular Goat Club, Manger mentioned that members attain the necessary skills to care for goats and their meetings fall on the third Thursday of every month at Briarfield Farm.
Participating as a relatively new coffee shop, this was Clatter’s second year at the Appalachian Festival. However, Clatter officially established it’s local business this past April on 15 S. Broadway in Frostburg. Serving coffee, espressos, tea, etc. paired with a delicious food menu, customers have the opportunity to dine in a rather cozy atmosphere. “There’s a before 11 menu, but after 11 you can get the whole menu. Before 11, you can get dishes such as frittatas, open faced bagels, parfaits, etc.– pretty basic cafe style. And after 11 we continue serving these dishes along with sandwiches, salads, bowls, and so on,” Co-Collaborator of Clatter, Josh Horevay explained. Clatter’s hours are Monday – Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Paige Vance and Megan Manes, two naturalists from Rocky Gap State Park also attended the festival this year, but not alone. The pair brought along an owl, aquatic turtle, and a snake. “We program with these animals. We use them for educational purposes to teach people about why they’re injured, what you can do to prevent such injuries, etc. In short, we spread awareness,” said Vance. Vance discussed their work with Scales and Tales, an environmental education program of the Maryland Park Service, who works with rehabilitated birds and other animals.
As the day went on, The Bottom Line made its way down to a few smaller vendors. Wildcraft Print Shop and KJH Botanical Drawings were amongst the few, as they promoted their Etsy businesses to the Frostburg community. Gabriel Echeverri, the owner of Wildcraft Print Shop, graduated from FSU in 2015, and since then has moved to Johnson City, Tennessee. He traveled all the way from Tennessee to attend the festival and mentioned, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Echeverri sells handmade pieces of colored fabric, with each piece varying in meaning. Accessible through the Wildcraft Print Shop Etsy site, his work is available to customers worldwide. Owner of KJH Botanical Drawings, Karen Heeter, a graduate student at FSU, sells botanical illustrations and prints through her Etsy site. Her work accurately depicts Appalachian plants, and is available on brown or white card stock. All of Heeter’s pieces are handmade and she takes commissions upon request.
Nayano Taylor-Neumann, an Australian native and former refugee settlement aide, led a discussion on the refugee situation in Murray Bridge, South Australia. There were ten attendees at Neumann’s discussion under the white tent. Taylor-Neumann began by giving the audience background on Murray Bridge; she compared its demographics to those of Cumberland, MD. “The town voted conservative every year since it was a voting area,” Taylor-Neumann told the audience. Due to this, the town was displeased to see boats of refugees arrive from Afghanistan and Indonesia after 9/11.
“A lot of people feel negative towards refugees in general,” Taylor Neuman expressed. The town’s government referred to the Muslim refugees as criminals and used other dehumanizing terms. In addition, opinion polls expressed hostile thoughts about the Muslim refugees.
Ultimately, these refugees sought out and found help from the Catholic church. Many charities in the town began to help the refugees. Taylor-Neumann worked with Lutheran Care, which is how she became active with the refugees.
Taylor-Neumann believed the citizens of Murray Bridge’s rhetoric toward refugees mirrors that of President Trump; however, she believes Trump’s ideology is more extreme. “There are a lot of similarities in the attitudes that people think they’re all evil, they spread diseases, they are going to take over the country. There was a lot of that but nothing as close as Trump– not even coming close,” said Taylor-Neumann.
She expressed how she feels about refugees, “I’ve never met a lazy refugee, because refugees do the jobs other people won’t.” Later, the government and citizens noticed there was economic progress because of the refugees.
“When you work with refugees you get a perspective on life and a whole lot of things you think are white people’s problems that you think are really important they just disappear because these people have suffered so much and gone through so much”, Taylor-Neumann said. She finds relief in caring about a mission bigger than herself, and has built many relationships with the refugees.
Another discussion held under the same tent was the Women’s Action Coalition (WAC). “You will never be made to be feel ostracized for having a different opinion from the group,” Sarah Parsons expressed to a prospective member of the Women’s Action Coalition. Parsons and Joy Kroeger-Mappes were the representatives of WAC; they gave a discussion on the group’s mission.
Parson views the organization as a means to give voices to activists in the Appalachia region. WAC focuses on a variety of issues, such as racism, LGBT rights, women’s rights, environmental issues, and much more. Parson stated, “Our hope is to bring more productive change to our community.”
The group began in Feb. 2017, and it was a response to the Women’s March held in Washington, D.C. Fifty five women from the Allegany County area boarded a bus and attended the march. When they returned, they all decided their activism could not stop after the march was over. All of the women who went to the march decided to have an interest meeting for the activist group.
Seven months later, the group has 147 members on its Facebook and 35 active members at its biweekly meetings. Parsons believes that their strategy of picking different libraries throughout the area for meetings is successful. She wanted people to know that WAC wants to reach everyone in the area.
The women knew action had to be taken after the racially motivated events in Charlottesville, Va. Therefore, WAC organized a peace vigil for the victims, located at the Cumberland Mall. “People wanted to be together after what happened,” Parsons said. The event went well, and there was about a hundred people in attendance. Some people even stopped at the event randomly while passing by.
The club has been hosting a book discussion recently; the chosen book is Hillbilly Elegy. The book follows what it is like growing up in Appalachia. The next two book discussions are held on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. The first discussion is at Piedmont Library, located at 1 Childs Avenue, Piedmont, W.Va. 26750. The second one is held at South Cumberland Library, located at Seymour Street Cumberland, Md. 21502.
WAC is an inclusive group; anyone from different demographics and political beliefs are welcome to join the group.
The festival was full of concerts and dance routines. In particular, The Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble performed at the Compton Stage. The group consisted of five singers and about a dozen dancers. The dancers wore black dresses with red accessories, and the singers wore denim outfits. The group’s performance altered between singing and dancing. The crowd was full of older people, who tapped their feet and nodded their heads to the music.
Leaving community members eager for next year, the Appalachian Festival will return next fall.