Blue Ridge Institute, folklife festival to celebrate 50th anniversary

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 8:06 PM EST
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FERRUM, Va. (WDBJ) - The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival is a celebration of regional traditions that brings thousands of people to the campus of Ferrum College every October.

It has a rich history of its own. And one who was there in the beginning, former Blue Ridge Institute Director Roddy Moore, says it was popular from the start.

“We tried to get a group to help with directing traffic and they said ‘you won’t have anybody up there wanting to come. You don’t have to worry.’ Well, we had a crowd and traffic was a mess,” Moore told WDBJ7.

This year, the Blue Ridge Institute and the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival are 50 years old. Tuesday morning, officials from Ferrum College unveiled the 50th anniversary logo.

“It is an incredible milestone, 50 years of serving Virginia and being able to create a passion for our past,” said Ferrum College President Mirta Martin.

The Blue Ridge Institute, said current director Bethany Worley, has stayed true to its mission, keeping the emphasis on authenticity.

“And these are traditions that are still being carried on,” Worley said in an interview. “It’s not something that has already passed and we’re looking back on it. These are living, breathing traditions.”

In honor of the 50th anniversary, the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival plans to welcome some of the people who were there in the beginning, and bring back popular activities, such as the checkers championship.

The festival isn’t until Saturday Oct. 28, but planning is under way, a new website is online and Worley says organizers want to start the conversation on what promises to be a special year.