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The Vandalia Gathering, an annual event, celebrates West Virginia’s heritage of traditional music, crafts, food, folklore, and dance. The Memorial Day Weekend festival, sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, is held at the Culture Center and the adjoining grounds of the state capitol. Vandalia is one of West Virginia’s largest festivals, attracting thousands of people each day.

Traditional musicians come from across the state to perform at Vandalia. Craftspeople demonstrate their skills and sell their products, which include wind chimes, pottery, quilts, and baskets, as well as foods such as jelly and salad dressings. Food booths offer traditional and ethnic fare, from hot dogs, hamburgers, and roasted corn, to Greek and Italian specialties and German sausages.

Highlights include old-time fiddle, banjo, and lap dulcimer competitions, flatfoot dancing demonstrations, and the liars contest, with tellers of tall tales competing to see who can create the most fanciful story. Traditional singing, instrumental performances, and dancing take place throughout the day. There are concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings, with a concluding awards concert late Sunday afternoon.

Begun in 1977 at the height of the folk arts revival, Vandalia developed a cadre of older musicians and craftspeople who returned to the festival for many years. Vandalia continues to showcase senior performers, seeking to preserve traditional forms of music and folk art and to pass the traditions on to younger generations. The Vandalia Award, which is West Virginia’s highest folklife honor, is presented each year for a lifetime of contributions to the continuation of the state’s folk heritage.

In 2020, the Vandalia Gathering, like many events statewide and nationwide, was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic

Last Revised on May 27, 2022

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Vandalia Gathering." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 27 May 2022. Web. 22 March 2023.


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