Heritage/History Lifestyle

Join a Celebration of Appalachian Arts, Culture at Bluff Mountain Festival

By Natasha Anderson

The 26th annual Bluff Mountain Festival will be held Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Hot Springs Resort and Spa in Hot Springs. The free event features bluegrass and old-time music, a silent auction of items donated from regional businesses, an artist market and a variety of food. Visitors are invited to bring blankets and lawn chairs for seating in front of the stage and in the shade of stately magnolias.

“The festival started with a collision of community, all types of folks working together toward a common goal,” says Bluff Mountain Festival director Brandon Johnson. “Today, it still has that sense of community.”

The event was first produced in 1996 by the Bluff Mountain Coalition, an informal group of local folks, hunters, environmentalists and business people from the Hot Springs area. The Coalition held the first three festivals as part of their successful grassroots effort to raise funds and awareness and save Bluff Mountain from a destructive logging and road-building plan.

In 1999, the event’s founders joined forces with the Madison County Arts Council (MCAC) to find it a new home. Since 1999 the Bluff Mountain Festival has been a major fundraiser for the MCAC and its many programs, and is one of the largest music shows in Madison County.

This year’s performers include JAM, Appalachian Heartstrings, Travis Stuart, David Hughes, Madison County ballad singers, Whitewater Bluegrass Company, Green Grass Cloggers, Sourwood Ridge, White Rock Revival, Dangerous Curves and Dillen & Reeves.

“This is one of my favorite festivals in our region,” says eighth-generation ballad singer Donna Ray Norton, who has been performing at the event for more than 20 years. “I love the location, the folks at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa are amazing and Bluff features a lot of different family-friendly things for everyone to do and see.”

The artist market features a wide variety of art and crafts and provides a one-of-a-kind shopping opportunity. In keeping with the fundraising theme, most artists donate a piece of their work and a portion of their sales to the silent auction. Food vendors from local nonprofits sell a selection of home-cooked delights as part of the festival’s longtime mission to be both a catalyst and meeting point for community togetherness, friendship and support.

“Last year, more than 70 volunteers, nearly 50 performers and more than 100 artists, craftspeople and local businesses made the festival possible,” says MCAC executive director Laura Boosinger. “Behind the scenes, volunteers are already hard at work to make the 26th Annual Bluff Mountain Festival a great celebration.”

Learn more at MadisonCountyArts.com.

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