Annual Gathering to be held

MINERAL WELLS – The fifth annual Gathering at Sweet Creek will bring old-time musicians and music fans from throughout the region to Mineral Wells at the end of August.

The Gathering will be Aug. 30-31 and Sept. 1 at 316 Sugar Camp Road, on West Virginia 21 about 2.5 miles south of the Mineral Wells exit of Interstate 77.

Admission is free all weekend, with music beginning at 6 p.m. Friday and running from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Parking is free on the premises and there will be space for primitive camping. Concessions will be sold by the Parkersburg High School Band Boosters.

Event organizer Steve Parker said the Gathering began about five years ago as a showcase for old-time music after the Stonewall Jackson Heritage Jubilee at Jackson’s Mill near Weston changed formats and moved away from traditional arts and craft at that time.

Parker said his late father, Kenny Parker, was involved in music selection for that jubilee for over 35 years and urged his son to begin hosting the old-time music gathering on his property at Mineral Wells the following year. The Mineral Wells event has been growing each year since that time.

Parker said his father died last November, on his birthday, and this year’s Gathering will include a brief memorial to him and his longtime involvement in the event.

About 50 musicians are scheduled to participate in the event. In the past, the Gathering has also had up to 800 people in attendance through the weekend, Parker said, and he hopes to see a good turnout this year.

Nearly all of the musicians who previously participated in the Jackson’s Mill event followed it to Mineral Wells and continue coming back each year for the Gathering, he said.

“As far as I know, we’re the only old-time music festival in the area,” Parker said.

The music featured at the Gathering primarily comes from the Appalachian region and its roots even further back in music from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and from Africa. Many immigrants from those areas moved to the Appalachians and brought their stories, music and tales – their oral histories – with them, he said.

Parker said there might be a few newer songs written in the old-time style and a few old songs with a new twist, but most of the music featured at the Gathering can go back hundreds of years in some cases, including old ballads, jigs, reels and other types.

“There are lots of sad, old ballads – I only know one or two really happy ballads – but most of them are about death and dying in the old Irish way,” he said.

The featured musicians are scheduled to include: Appalachian Leftovers; Bare Bones with Doc Cutlip; Dave Bing; Anna Border; Jack Bowman; Oliver Browne; Joe Dobbs; Andrew Dunlap; Frank George; Mark and Janet Given; Buddy Griffin; Bill Hariston; Cindy Harris; Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwartz; Terri Hayes; Bob Heyer; Sam Hickman; Kim Johnson; Rod and Judy Jones; Pete Kosky; John Lilly; Kate Long; Jim Martin; David Morris and Christine Ballengee-Morris; Jack Ballengee-Morris; John Morris; Ron Mullenex, Rory Mullenex; David O’Dell; Poteen; John Preston; Samples Brothers; Sarah Sink; Carl and Judy Smith with John Koon; Jessie Smith; Sweet Creek; Bobby Taylor; Sherrell Wigal; and Charlie Winter.