Published February 19, 2016

The Virginia Folklife Program is excited to announce a new partner with Ash Lawn-Highland, the historic home of James Monroe, to host the annual Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase. The event will take place on Sunday, May 15, 2016.

Now in its thirteenth year, the showcase is a free, family-friendly event that highlights the Commonwealth’s folk masters and apprentices from the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. The event celebrates the traditional music, crafts, and foodways of Virginia, introducing the public to the master artists and apprentices who keep the traditions alive. This year we expect an even larger audience to enjoy more than ten live musical performances and a dazzling display of engaging demonstrations—from bluegrass to oyster shucking—at the Showcase’s new location, Ash Lawn-Highland.

Sara Bon-Harper, executive director of Ash Lawn-Highland, said about the new partnership, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to host the Folklife Program’s Apprenticeship Showcase at James Monroe’s Highland. It is a great fit with our mission, and we look forward to sharing this historic property with the many followers of the Folklife Program.”

Jon Lohman, director of the Virginia Folklife Program remarked, “Ash Lawn has long expressed an interest in holding our event on their grounds, and we couldn’t be happier to partner with them on the 2016 showcase. Ash Lawn is a beautiful place filled with great history. It will help us connect even more people to the experience of Virginia’s traditions and the gifts of today’s living folk masters—tying together our past and present.”

The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program pairs experienced master artists with gifted, dedicated apprentices for one-on-one, nine-month learning experiences, ensuring that art forms are passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. Begun in 2002, the program has worked with more than ninety apprenticeship teams from across the state in music, dance, crafts, food, and word traditions. Through these and other activities, the Virginia Folklife Program “captures the stories of everyday people living extraordinary lives,” said Lohman. “From fiddle-making to Piedmont blues, our focus is to keep these traditions vibrant from generation to generation.”

The annual Apprenticeship Showcase celebrates the graduating class of master artists and apprentices and introduces the new class of incoming teams. The 2016-2017 Apprenticeship teams will be announced in March, and the full showcase lineup in April. Many special guest and features are in the works now.

Past Apprenticeship Showcases have featured masters of a diverse array of traditional arts and skills from across Virginia, from decoy carving of the Eastern Shore to cornshuck doll making from the Virginia coalfields. Musical performances have demonstrated the remarkable breadth of music styles and traditions, including bluegrass, Piedmont blues, gospel, and old time stringband, as well as musical traditions newer to Virginia, from immigrant communities across the world. Traditional foodways presented have included country ham curing, Mexican molé making, canning, fried pie making, and the traditional methods for rendering maple syrup and honey. And each year audience members are treated to genuine Brunswick Stew and Northern Neck oysters, shucked by national champion shuckers Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon of the Northern Neck. 

The Apprenticeship Showcase is sponsored by

Platinum sponsors


Gold Sponsor


Presenting Sponsors

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Who: Virginia Folklife Program Masters and Apprentices
What: 13th Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase.  FREE and Open to the Public.
When: Sunday, May 15, 2016 from 12:00 – 5:00 PM
Where: Ash Lawn-Highland: Home of James Monroe, 2050 James Monroe Parkway, Charlottesville, VA 22902


Learning Experience

Virginia History in Song

What can songs teach us about history?