Walnut Valley Festival

Frank) Ah rain, rain, rain, rain. So, we hope it doesn’t rain out at festival. (Deb) Oh I know, Walnut Valley has had some challenges with rain in the past. But you know what? It has never dampened the spirits of the folks who go to the Walnut Valley Festival at Winfield. Fifteen thousand people go to Walnut Valley every year to hear some amazing music, to make some amazing music. And I did some interviews a few years ago with…just recorded interviews, audio, with Pat Flynn and Brian Bowers and Mike Cross, and Dan Crary, legendary Dan Crary who will be there again this year. And he was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame earlier this year and is a Kansas City boy who is an amazing guitar player. There’s just…it is like one big family. It truly is. The Winfeld experience is just like nothing else I’ve ever known. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) So, it starts today. I’m headed down. (Frank) Yea, well when people say What do you do in Kansas? Well, this is just one little thing that goes on in this state. (Deb) One little, one little really big thing. Let’s take a look. The Walnut Valley Association was formed in 1972, to produce the Walnut Valley National Guitar Flat Picking Championships Festival, now known as the Walnut Valley Festival. Most folks just say, I’m going to Winfield. Two days was not enough to contain the Winfield experience, so it now spans 5 days anchored by the 3rd weekend of September. The festival features performances on 4 stages simultaneously; a large, juried arts and crafts fair; workshops; and acoustic instrument contests. It boasts over 30 acts and 8 contests, including the National Flat Pick Championships and the International Finger Style Championships. Over the course of years, the contests at Winfield have attracted more than 3,000 contestants from all 50 states as well as many foreign countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Caledonia, Switzerland, and Wales. Well-known Winfield winners include Mark O’Connor of Nashville, Tennessee, who has won or placed in more Walnut Valley Festival contests than any other contestant. He returns to perform with his family this year. Alison Krauss won the Walnut Valley Fiddle Championship in 1984. Other Winfield winners include mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile and Dixie Chick fiddler Martie Erwin Seidel. Former Kansas Secretary of State Chris Biggs placed third in the guitar competition for three straight years, no little accomplishment! Nearly 15,000 people make the pilgrimage to Winfield each year, and most of them play an instrument. Lots of family reunions happen there, and many weddings have taken place at the Festival. The Walnut Valley Festival has always been a place to make new friends and renew old acquaintances.

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