Published June 8, 2016

HoustonFest is a true gem of a festival honoring the memory of a talented banjoist and dear friend of the Virginia Folklife Program, Houston Caldwell, who passed away in 2010 at the age of eighteen. Held each year in beautiful Felts Park in Houston’s hometown of Galax, Virginia, Houstonfest always features some of the biggest names in bluegrass, while also showcasing the finest youth pickers around. The Virginia Folklife Program has partnered with HoustonFest from the beginning, and this year we’re proud to host workshops all weekend on the new Virginia Tourism Stage 341 in beautiful Felts Park.

We like to think of our workshops as “musical conversations,” where audiences get to hear the stories behind the songs and the memories that make the music. Listen to Virginia Folklife director Jon Lohman’s workshop with The Whites, Sharon and Cheryl, and their father Buck at HoustonFest in 2014:

This year’s workshops on Stage 341 (Houston’s fire engine number) include Virginia Folklife Master and Apprentice Scott Freeman and Kitty Amaral, Scott’s talented daughter Dori Freeman, Willard Gayheart, Jennifer and Michael McLain, Sammy Shelor and Clay Russell, Carolina Line, Brien Fain and Stu Shenk, Eddie Bond, Jared Boyd, Galax Flat Footers, Jenniver, Foy and Reva Banks, Amber Collins and Branch House Pavilion, Blue Highway, Jeff Little, the Virginia Luthiers, and a workshop remembering Houston Caldwell.

Opening Ceremony HoustonFest 2014
The opening ceremonies at HoustonFest featured a fire company honor guard and the Church Sisters singing the national anthem from the top of a hook-and-ladder truck. Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program

Along with the workshop stage we are installing a gallery of photographs made at Felts Park during the last three years by our photographer Pat Jarrett. The work focuses on the place and the people who make music at Felts Park.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there.