Published May 2, 2016

The Virginia Folklife Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities announces the schedule for the 2016 Apprenticeship Showcase on Sunday, May 15 from 12:00 to 5:00pm at James Monroe’s Highland (formerly Ash Lawn-Highland). This much anticipated free celebration honors this year’s participants in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, which pairs masters with apprentices in a diverse range of traditional folkways.

Highlights for the showcase include performances by stellar old-time musicians the Whitetop Mountain Band; the last surviving member of blues and soul legends the Holmes Brothers, Sherman Holmes, with his apprentice; numerous bluegrass artists including Danny Knicely, Herschel Sizemore, and Billy Baker; and musical traditions as diverse as Russian balalaika and polka accordion. The music program will also feature an appearance by Old Regular Baptist hymn master and National Heritage Fellowship winner Reverend Frank Newsome. At the conclusion of the showcase, all in attendance will be invited to join in a traditional square dance led by Shenandoah Valley master callers Eugene and Ellen Ratcliffe.

Participating master crafts people at the Showcase include Mama-Girl, whose enchanting paper sculptures are truly joyous with her apprentice David Onley; Sochietah Ung, a master of Cambodian costume making celebrated for his remarkably intricate crowns and his apprentices Matthew Regan and Lena Ouk; Richard Pippin, a photographer who explores traditional methods including tintypes with his apprentices Melissa Jones and Zoe Bearinger; Jim Bordwine, a salt maker who will regale any listeners with tales of all things salt with his apprentice Baron Bordwine; Dale Wise, an accordion master repairman with his apprentice Lori Sallade; and Rick Green, a master blacksmith who will have his forge blazing with his apprentice Jon Butler.

The Apprenticeship Showcase features more than great music and crafts. The event is a true feast for all the senses, as culinary masters of the folk world return to serve up some audience favorites:

  • The Proclamation Stew Crew will cook 600 quarts of delicious, real Brunswick Stew. Though preparations begin at 5 am, complimentary bowls will be ready at about 1 pm and additional quarts will be on sale to take home.
  • Frances Davis, the “Fried Apple Pie Lady” will be on hand to demonstrate and share her legendary pies.
  • Joey Mirabile of Joey’s Hot Dogs in Richmond will have his mobile cart on site sharing his family’s legacy of purveying hot dogs. These are so good and so simple, but unlike any others.
  • The amazing oyster shucking world champion sisters Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd will be back to demonstrate their skills and rekindle their rivalry in our annual oyster shucking contest. Feared throughout the oyster shucking competition circuit, these ladies can open two dozen oysters in less than three minutes. We know you can’t try that at home, so come learn from the masters, and maybe eat a Rappahannock oyster or two (they are bringing three bushels!).

This family-friendly event is great for kids as well, and Highland volunteers will be on hand to teach kids James Monroe-themed crafts.

Full Performance Schedule:

The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase is free and open to the public.

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