A celebration of Appalachian culture will be center stage during the Festival of Nations, set for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Central Park bandstand.
It will be the 45th year for the festival, International Folklanders’ director Carole Prietzel said. The folklanders is a group that performs folk dances at a variety of events. Prietzel said at least a dozen dancers will perform.
“The festival will be centered on Appalachian culture,” she explained. “There will be narration in the program explaining how immigrants came into the area from Ireland, Germany and Scotland.”
She said she hopes to have a group of school children perform the Virginia reel, with a lesson for audience members at the end of the show.
She said she also hopes to perform the Kentucky running set, a traditional Kentucky dance that’s rarely seen.
“There is a lot of history behind it and when we’ve done it before, people told us they were so glad to see it because they’d never gotten to see it,” Prietzel said.
Prietzel took over the festival from Jean Thomas, also known as the Traipsin’ Woman, a local woman who promoted the traditional American arts. The festival continued under Prietzel’s direction at Carter Caves Resort Park for 36 years and the folklanders were paid to perform.
When management changed, a charge for the dancers to use the stage was instituted so the festival moved to Greenbo Lake State Resort Park, where it continued until that park began charging for the use of the stage.
Last year, the dancers moved to Central Park, where the event will be this year. There is no admission charge.
Prietzel said the group needs to make some money to continue operating so another change of venue could be in the future.
“I’m just trying to keep the festival going,” she said, noting the many benefits the festival brings.
“It teaches you to understand people from around the world because when you learn the dances you learn something about the people, you learn something about their way of life,” she said.
Attendees may bring lawn chairs to the festival, Prietzel said.
To purchase a DVD of the group or for information about joining International Folklanders, call Prietzel at (606) (606) 928-9372.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.