Music and more draw folks to W.Va. folk fest

September 04, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE


"Folk music," said Maureen Harrigan, owner of Almost Heaven Farm, site of her annual Country Roads Folk Festival, "bridges the gap between lifestyles and age groups."

Harrigan, who moved into the 18th-century farmhouse seven years ago, held the folk festival on her 101/2-acre farm Saturday for the sixth year.

"It's real important to bring the community together with a nice, wholesome event," she said.

Festival-goers, in addition to hearing traditional and contemporary folk, Celtic, bluegrass and Israeli folk music, enjoyed a barn dance, camping, hayrides and a cool dip in Opequon Creek, which runs along the property.


In previous years, Harrigan charged a fee to get in. This year, it was free.

Last year, Harrigan had three stages set up in the field plus the barn. On Saturday, the solo and group acts performed only in the old barn.

This year's festival was the smallest ever because of changes in her life. Harrigan is adopting four girls, ages 4 to 10. "I suddenly found myself a single parent of four daughters," she said.

"It isn't as big a production this year," Harrigan said. "I decided to do a big thank-you party for those who supported the festival in the past."

Among the performers Saturday were the Martin Family Stringband; Stoneybrook; Aca-Perco; StepJam; Ripoff Con Artists; Ed Barney, Teri Chism and Wayne Lanham of Patent Pending; the South Mountain String Band; Celtic folk singer John Doyle of Shepherdstown, W.Va.; and Allegheny Uprising.

Harrigan promotes and produces performances for the Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Md.

While there were no outside stages this year, a group of musicians and a clogger set up shop under the shade of a huge catalpa tree and entertained a small crowd that had assembled under the tree's broad leaves.

Phil Krastman, 53, of Fairfax City, Va., said he hasn't missed any of Harrigan's festivals. He has known her for 20 years and volunteers at the festival, he said.

"She's having it this year to thank those who helped her to keep the house and barn going," he said.

Two musicians from Germany - Jutta Claar, 48, of Frankfurt, and Carmen Armrein, 20, of Munich - came to the festival to play their Hackbretts, a German version of the dulcimer. They will play at the three-day Upper Potomac Dulcimer Festival in Shepherdstown, W.Va., next weekend, they said.

Harrigan had a special surprise Saturday when her musician brother, Pete Harrigan, 50, of the Ozarks area of Missouri, showed up in the afternoon.

"What a surprise," she said, giving him a big hug. "I've been trying to get him to come to my festival for six years."

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