News & Events

Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival Set for October 3

Daytime Events Postponed Until October 24
Evening Events Will Go On, As Planned, On October 3

Lf Fiddlers

Musician and folklorist Bascom Lamar Lunsford dedicated his life to traveling the hills and coves of the Appalachian Mountains to find, memorize, and record the songs and dances so intimately woven into the mountain culture. He started the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville in 1928, and from there was enlisted to help start the National Folk Festival. He became instrumental in the creation of multiple festivals throughout the United States, but it wasn’t until Mars Hill pharmacist Ed Howard formulated a plan to name a festival in honor of Lunsford that he ever let one of his festivals carry his name. It was only with persistence and flexibility that Howard was able to convince Lunsford to allow the festival in his home town of Mars Hill to be named the Bascom Lamar Lunsford “Minstrel of Appalachia” Festival, and then only with the clear understanding the festival would be dedicated to authentic mountain music and dance.

The 48th year of the festival, to be held October 3, 2015, on the Mars Hill University campus, will continue to honor Lunsford’s legacy by showcasing the talent and traditions of the region's finest musicians and dancers while offering old-time craft demonstrations, local arts and crafts, food, and family activities. This year’s festival will be held in conjunction with the Mars Hill Heritage Festival and Mars Hill University’s homecoming celebration. Parking will be limited but a free shuttle will run from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. from the top of the hill near the Comfort Inn at the junction of U.S. 19/23 (Future I-26) and N.C. 213.

Daytime activities are free and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those activities include games, jam sessions, craft demonstrations, exhibitors, dancing, an apple-butter-making demonstration hosted by Madison County 4-H, a traditional ballad and story swap from 1:30 until 3:30 pm, and a special premiere at the evening performance of the Roger Howell Documentary Project.

Inthenews Lunsford Fest HowellThe documentary will be screened in Moore Auditorium at 6:30 p.m., before the Lunsford Festival's traditional evening concert. The film is the culmination of a year of filming, interviewing, and following Master Fiddler Roger Howell from festivals to hollers, mines in Mitchell County to his repair shop on Banjo Branch in Mars Hill. The filmmakers say his story is an important one, for its reminder that music preservation, like that of Bascom Lamar Lunsford and others, doesn’t happen without dedication, forethought, and hours of work. Howell’s earliest memory of the Lunsford Festival is of standing in the back—there was nowhere to sit—with his small handheld tape recorder. His passion for learning the music drove him to record the older generations when he was young so that he could learn the tunes they played. This early interest led to a life-long quest, as he calls it, to learn, share, and record the tunes of the people from who he learned. With the keen eye of filmmaker Rebecca Jones and the teamwork of the Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies staff, Hannah Furgiuele and Karen Paar, and many supportive community members, the film portrays the life and work of Howell and highlights his incredible memory collection and field recordings.

The evening concert featuring performances by the region's best ballad singers, dancers, and string bands will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Moore Auditorium. Adult tickets are $10.00 in advance, $12.00 at the door; tickets for children under 12 are $5.00 at the door. Full ticket information along with a schedule of daytime and evening performers for the festival can be found on the Lunsford Festival website,

For more information, contact Hannah Furgiuele at or 828-689-1571.