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Country Roads festival brings folk down home

October 09, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

KEARNEYSVILLE, W.VA. - Folk music - the art form that reflects the daily life of people and gained momentum in the 1960s as singers spoke out against issues like war - gets its own celebration in the Eastern Panhandle every year.

It comes in the form of the Country Roads Folk Festival, where folk music fans can take in a day's worth of performances in a picturesque country backdrop that encourages one to slow down and enjoy some time with friends, organizers say.

Festival founder Maureen Harrigan - who was putting on her seventh installment of the event Sunday - hopes the music still holds, for some, solutions to modern-day issues.

The lessons of the past often can offer insight to challenges ahead, said Harrigan, who works as a concert promoter.

"I just meet so many great musicians, and I think it's important to share their music," Harrigan said as she led an impromptu tour of the festival grounds from a golf cart Sunday afternoon.

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As usual, the festival was at Harrigan's farm off Opequon Lane in Kearneysville.

Performances from groups like The Rolling Coyotes were scheduled to be offered throughout the afternoon and the festival was to continue into the evening with a performance by The Glengarry Bhoys - known for their high energy Celtic music - and a campfire and song circle.

Also scheduled to perform later in the day was Bill Danoff, who has been writing music since the 1960s and who wrote songs with John Denver, including "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

During the afternoon, spectators relaxed in a large field while musicians performed on a covered stage. In a cavernous barn, adults and children enjoyed activities like a clogging workshop.

The festival usually attracts about 700 people, and about 200 had arrived by early Sunday afternoon. Harrigan said the crowd usually picks up in the evening.

No admission was charged for Sunday's event. Harrigan was asking spectators to make a donation to help defray the costs of setting up tents for music CD sales and music stages.

Becky Marshall of Takoma Park, Md., said Sunday was the first time she had been to the festival, and she discovered it through a friend who works with children's musical programs.

Marshall said she has never been to a music festival quite like Harrigan's, which blends music with other activities for families.

Children are offered the chance to visit with animals on the farm, and Marshall's 7-year-old son, Oliver, was chasing a duck in a pen while she talked under a giant shade tree.

"This is very unusual. It's very unique," Marshall said.

Joyce and Jess Quintero of Owings, Md., said they have come to the festival for about five years.

"It reminds me of back home on a farm," Jess Quintero said as he munched on popcorn while seated on a bench outside of the barn.

Quintero said he grew up on a ranch in California and told stories about his harvesting work.

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