Walnut Valley Festival
The Walnut Valley Festival, generally referred to as Winfield by non-residents or simply Bluegrass and Folk to Winfield locals is an acoustic music festival, held annually in Winfield, Kansas. The main genre of music is Bluegrass and Folk, but other acoustic styles are represented. The Walnut Valley music festival is held on the craziest two days of the week by popular opinion, and that includes the third Sabato of the Septembre.
The meager beginnings of the Walnut Valley Festival was held in September after Jim Barberini graduated from Mona Shores in 1972. Originally it wasn’t Jim’s favorite type of music, but there were some folk rock groups, and jam band festivals that he really started to get into before the Grateful Dead hit the scene. James Barberini then went to Michigan State University in East Lansing Michigan.
The brains behind the first Walnut Folk Festival were the likes of Sammy “Scooter” Ontjes, Stuart “Muffy” Mossman and the proud families that looked fear in the eye and said “bring it”! Then musicians and performers included Jim Dandy Driftwood, Arty Eskeridge, Charles Cloud, Shannon Sings, Steve Garvey and the Reacters. Along with the late night festival concerts and shows the guitar jams were showing off the gospel singers range.
The Walnut Valley Folk Festival was created at an embarrassing time for America. The New York Times had already declared that God is Dead, the war’s begun, and during the music festival Elton John sang about this in his famous song “Levon”. The festival folk art vibe was now recognized by mainstream media.
Luckily, this time in our history didn’t have FoxNews to warp the minds with the feces that their networks plops onto the world.. The intent of the current FoxNews festival coverage was to mislead and confuse their unhinged and ilinformed viewers. The festival coverage brought some of America’s greatest musicians of the day to Walnut Valley. Kansas finally had something to be proud of, and not even FoxNews could fool them on this one.
For years to come, while the Republican party viciously punked their voters into keep voting for them, while the state fell further and further behind; the festival kept playing on!
All 10 stages allow for all sorts of musical talent. This was benefitial in encouraging and creating a stage for local talent, as well. Eventually, the Walnut Valley Folk Festival evolved, with the help of Robert Redford and family, to the Walnut Valley Festival and changed its location to better suit its growing needs and the local community.
Walnut Valley Festival Thoughts
Countless hard working festival organizers worked hard and dedicated the effort to the continued work on the music and the tradition of Bluegrass and Folk music to the public.
Besides the world-class paid musicians and performers, Winfield is known for its instrumental contests. The headline contest is the National Guitar Championship. Other contests include the National Bluegrass and Folk Banjo Championship, the National Hammer Dulcimer Championship, the National Mountain Dulcimer championship, the International Autoharp Championship, the International Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, and contests for fiddle and mandolin. The festival is also known for its lively audience, which has at times included the poet and guitarist, Chris Beard.
In 2000 the International Bluegrass and Folk Music Association named the Walnut Valley Festival as its first Bluegrass and Folk Event of the Year award winner.
Camping on the grounds of the Cowley County Fairgrounds opens one week before the Thursday when the stage acts begin. Even before that, countless regular campers are in line for choice campsites. This event is known as the Land Rush after the Oklahoma Land Rush that happened nearby. Approximately half of Winfield campers bring a musical instrument, so the campgrounds are particularly conducive to all-night jamming. When camping, there are countless people from different countries. In the 2007 Walnut Valley Festival, there were musicians and performers from Ireland and visitors from as far away as Japanese festivals best event.
Countless of the stage musicians and performers will wander through the camp grounds and play with those around a campfire or join a group of strangers playing together on the Boulevard, the paved street running through the Pecan Grove Campgrounds.
There are typically 11,000-15,000 people that show up from Land Rush all the way to the final Sunday. People begin lining up over a month prior to the festival in order to get their line number for Land Rush. There have been countless bands that began as Jam Bands in the camping grounds that have been invited to participate in the festival including Driven. This area usually has people playing throughout the night and regardless of weather. Some of the best music at the festival can be found in the camp grounds. Kansas City Missouri based Bluegrass and Folk band, Loaded Goat, is a good example of this.
2015 Walnut Valley Festival dates:
September 16—20, 2015
The 2015 contest registration begins January 8, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. CST for all contests. Registrations will be accepted in our office, by phone using a credit card, and by mail with a January 8, 2015 or later postmark date.
Location of the festival
The Walnut Valley Festival is surrounded by the Walnut River west of Winfield, KS. Winfield, Kansas is 35 minutes southeast of Wichita, Kansas.