History and Event Overview
1928: Asheville, North Carolina. Well-known musician and folk historian Bascom Lamar Lunsford organizes performers to present traditional mountain music and dance to the public in this first iteration of what will become the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. This first festival was held at Pack Square as part of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce’s Rhododendron Festival. Prize money was offered for the best dance group and the best band and the great tradition of the festival was born. Cecil Pless and Sam Love Queen organized the dancers for Lunsford.
1930: The festival separates into its own entity as the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and was held at McCormick Field. Shortly after, it moves to the Asheville Civic Auditorium.
1967: Shindig on the Green is founded by Jackie and Earl Ward, Bob Lindsay, and Jerry Israel with the help of other Folk Heritage Committee members, as a place for musicians to gather and play on summer Saturday nights downtown, at City County Plaza.
1973: Bascom Lunsford passes away on September 4th. The Stoney Creek Boys become the official house band for the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival.
1974: The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival moved to the Asheville Civic Center from the Asheville City Auditorium, and then subsequently to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in the same complex, where it remained until 1998.
1998: The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival is held outside at Asheville’s City County Plaza on the 4th of July. Rain marred the event and Mrs. Herron (Lunsford's daughter) and the Folk Heritage Committee make the decision to move back to the traditional date, and back indoors.
1999: The Folk Heritage Committee moves the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival to its current location, Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place, to be held annually on the first weekend of August.
2006: The Folk Heritage Committee temporarily relocates Shindig on the Green to Martin Luther King Jr. Park, two blocks away, while City County Plaza undergoes renovation and transformation into Pack Square Park.
2010: Shindig on the Green returns to the center of downtown in front of the City and County buildings, which is the new Roger McGuire Green at the new Pack Square Park. The new elaborate stage at the park is named the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Stage.
When noted folklorist and attorney Bascom Lamar Lunsford took mountain music and dance out of the “hills and hollers” of Western North Carolina and put it on stage for the public to see in 1928, he created one of the nation’s most important historical and cultural performance events. Held the first weekend of August each year, “along about sundown”, Asheville’s Mountain Dance and Folk Festival is the oldest continuously running folk festival in the nation. When the fiddles, banjos, cloggers and more hit the stage in 2017, the festival will celebrate a venerable 89th birthday. While many similar events may now be found across the country, Asheville’s Mountain Dance and Folk Festival is a splendid, high spirited showcase of the region’s traditional music and dance, handed down through the years and sometimes even performed by two or three generations of one family together on stage. The 89th Annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival will be held at Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place in downtown Asheville on August
3, 4, & 5, 2017.
While the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival continues to give area performers important recognition, highlighting their talents and preserving our Southern Appalachian heritage in a concert setting, Shindig on the Green provides a way to encourage and present a wide variety of performers in an informal outdoor atmosphere. Each summer, the Shindig presents authentic, traditional music and dance, creating a forum for the growth of the heritage and providing free entertainment to tens of thousands of individuals from all over the world who attend, while stimulating awareness and appreciation for the cultural heritage of the region. In 2017, catch the 51st season of Shindig on the Green at Pack Square Park in the heart of downtown Asheville on Saturday nights: July 1, 8, 15, 22; August 12, 19, 26 and September 2.
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