Walnut Valley Occasional

Reflections on 51st Walnut Valley Festival
and Updates on WVF 52

Waiting to Compete

For me, our 51st Walnut Valley Festival was a study in contrasts. There were so many things that went well in 2023, even the weather, and our surveys reflected that. There was a level of positivity and appreciation for the festival that surpassed any survey results I have seen since I started here. WVA staff, though, were dealing with our loss of some key people, and struggling to make sure that everything was set up and ready for our guests.

Our performer lineup seemed to go over well, and many of the bands new to Winfield seemed to be very popular with our crowd. You will see several of those new performers return this year, but you will also see more new faces again in our lineup for 2024.

Shirt and mug sales returned to grounds, and designs from both vendors were very popular. I want to thank River Rat Custom Print & Skate (Lawrence, KS) and Mostaza Gallery (Harper, KS) for making it through your first year, and we hope to partner up with you again next year. We had several new crafts booths and luthiers represented, and Heart of Texas Baskets & Kim’s Craft Corner (tied for 1st Place), Parham Custom Leather (2nd Place) and The Whittler’s Wife were recognized for their outstanding booths in the Paulette Rush Arts & Crafts Fair. Family Tree Meats were also recognized in the pantry.

We had over 100 new workers in our crew this year, which was wonderful, and we thank you all for your hard work before, during and after festival. We hope you are hooked on the challenging but rewarding work that we do to organize the festival, and that we will see you back next year.

At the same time, we were missing several people from our festival staff and crew, including Kendra Redford (passed away in June) and Rick Meyer (in hospital during festival, and passed away in late September). With Rick in hospital, there were so many people on crew and staff who stepped up, taking up many of the myriad tasks that Rick somehow always completed during festival.

Because of persistent difficulties in staffing the night shifts, we made the decision to close our main gate and reentry overnight during festival. We found that very few festival-goers showed up in those late hours, and those who did were content to pull in and wait until the gate opened in the morning. That change allowed us to save our staff from having to work some overnight shifts, and we appreciate your understanding.

As always, we had some of the best pickers in the world win at our 8 instrument championships. Acoustic Music Shoppe, a streamed variety show held in between contests at Stage IV, filmed ALL of the contest finals, and you can find links to those in our digital occasional. We want to thank the Chapman Brothers and their crew for building a great program for our festival-goers and for bringing the Walnut Valley Festival to viewers around the world.

Looking ahead to 2024, we have adopted a new tiered ticket system for teens, making it much more affordable for families to attend Walnut Valley Festival. The new system has parents purchasing tickets for teens 11-15 years-old paying half the cost of an adult ticket, rather than full adult price as in the past. Speaking of tickets, Early-Bird Tickets are available for purchase online or in our office—they make great holiday gifts. But get them early, because they only last through February 15.

We have been putting together an amazing lineup of performers for our 52nd festival, some of whom are featured in this newsletter. Aside from the official stages with hours of talented picking, we will have 8 instrument championships, a juried arts and crafts fair, and some great food vendors. You can expect all this and more, in 2024!

Bart Redford
Executive Director

Larry Fleury, who captured the terrific images posted on Facebook and Instagram during the festival, compiled this wonderful recap video for WVF 51.

2023 Contests Winners

Listen to interviews with WVF 51 Contest Winners.
Watch their final round performances, their encores and their award presentations.

(Winners are listed as pictured, Left to Right)

2nd Steve Luper
1st Cindy Harris
3rd George Haig

2nd Adam Candor
1st Momo Kimura
3rd Mikey Bilello

2nd Dana Hamilton
1st David Wilson
3rd Allison O'Shea

2nd Gordon Parker
1st Ethan Batan
3rd Luke Lovejoy

2nd Edith Sigler
1st Monte Gaylord
3rd Nathan Pedneault

2nd Mike Cramer
1st Ian Ly
3rd Hayden Reidling

2nd Gage Milton
1st Mickey Sweeney
3rd Tim Simek

2nd Owen Brockman
1st Anthony Howell
3rd Steven Moore

Registration for the 2024 National Flat-Picking Championships
Begin Thursday, January 11th at 9am CST!

Walnut Valley Festival would like to thank the following, who made possible the linked audio and visual materials  included in this Occasional:

     Stage IV Sound Crew:  Greg Smyer, Jim Phillips, Andy Colclasure, Matt Anderson and Seth Gruebel
     Ozark Music Shoppe: The Chapman Brothers and their video crews
     Campground Radio: Joe Taverner and Ron McCleary 
     Larry Fleury, Creative Strategist, UX/UI
     Stage 11 Video (Gypsy Wagon):  David Hakan

Thank you for all your hard work.

2023 Paulette Rush Arts & Craft Show Winners

There were 87 crafters and luthiers from 14 states at The Paulette Rush Arts & Crafts Show, held annually during the Walnut Valley Festival. Three of the four winners were first-time attendees and truly earned their titles. Chat with the ladies of Heart of Texas Baskets and Kim’s Craft Corner who shared a booth this year.  You will soon learn and appreciate the variety of materials they use to weave their assortment of baskets and woven goods. Michael Parham, of Parham Custom Leather, is an artist who has been taught by leather-making greats in multiple states. Michael creates one-of-a-kind pieces of art on his leather items. Taylor & Tabitha Brown are the new owners of Family Tree Meats of Grenola, KS.  They are proudly carrying on the family tradition of butchering and processing meats.

Thank you to our winners and the large group of vendors who eagerly return home to Winfield each year.  Jessica Soto, Crafts Director, stated, “I had a fantastic first festival working as the Arts & Crafts Director and look forward to working with everyone next year.”

Congratulations to the 2023 Paulette Rush Arts & Crafts Show Winners

Paulette Rush Award Winner

Heart of Texas Baskets and Kim’s Craft Corner (basketry)
Diane Wilson & Kim Polson
Waco, TX
both can be contacted at:


Second Place

Parham Custom Leather
Michael Parham
Oklahoma City, OK


Third Place

The Whitler’s Wife
Samuel & Rowena Culp
Stafford, KS

Pantry Winner

Family Tree Meats
Taylor & Tabitha Brown
Grenola, KS

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention

Amy Fitzpatrick – Care Creations & Metal Works (jewelry) – Yellville, AR
Larry Tallent – Larry Tallent Jewelry – Oklahoma City, OK
Agustin Morales – Mosto Creations (mixed crafts) – Van Buren, AR
Taylor Stevens – Switzer Family Designs (mixed crafts) – Bella Vista, AR
Jessica Leeper – The Soap Box (scents, soaps) – Winfield, KS
John Tracy, II – Tracy Studio (fine art) – Mountain View, OK

2023 Newsong Showcase Winners

Watch NewSong Showcase sets from Thursday and Saturday

Chris Jones NewSong Showcase Curator 2020- Present

Chris Jones’ statement about WVF NewSong Showcase:  “I am so impressed with the quality of submissions for NewSong Showcase; they really were exceptional. I love the process of discovering new songs, so I really appreciate the chance to curate NewSong Showcase on behalf of Walnut Valley Festival. Every year I’m so grateful to the outstanding judges who lend their ears and their hearts to the difficult task of determining winners, and who have compiled some really valuable feedback to get out to all the writers. I’m especially thankful to the songwriters who open themselves up every year and let us hear their work and their art.”

Registration opens March 1, 2024

Deadline to get your entries to WVF has been moved to July 1, 2024!

2023 Campsite Winners

Decorating campsites at Walnut Valley Festival has always been a fun part of coming early, friends and family camping together, and letting their personalities be on display with their decorations.  Others like to walk through the campgrounds to see how different camps are decorated. 

Next year, come early to camp and let your personality shine as you decorate. Then let the Info Booth know where your camp is so you can be in the running to win the fun prizes for the best decorated camp.

1st Place

Kansas River Camp(ers)

First Place Winner receives a camp Water jug and two mugs plus a current year festival poster.

Jen Flippin, Lawrence, KS; Bill Harmon, Baldwin City, KS; Sha Harmon, Baldwin City, KS; Dave & Lynn Irvin; Lawrence, KS; Scott McDeaniel, Lawrence, KS; Benjamin Munro, Beaverton, OR; Forrest Munro, Beaverton, OR; Jerry Peterson, Lees Summit, MO; Adam Ramaley, Beaverton, OR; Andrew Ramaley, Lawrence, KS; Kimberly Ramaley, Lawrence, KS; Goldie Schmiedler, Chicago, IL; Nick & Cindy Schmiedeler, Lawrence, KS; Cooper Schmiedeler, Virginia Beach, VA; Andrew Slimmer, Austin, TX; Pat & Linda Slimmer, Lawrence, KS; Anthony Solari, Springfield, MO; Becky Solari, Springfield, MO; Libby Walter, Baldwin City, KS

2nd Place

Clyde's Corner

Second Place Winner
Receives a current year Festival Poster

Anna Logan, Denver, CO; Dave Pilarowski, Keyston, CO; Jenny Pilarowski, Bluffton, OH; John Pilarowski, Bluffton, OH; Richard, Wichita, KS; Jamie, Hiedi & Mike Webb, Lawrence, KS; Hannah Windholz, Lawrence, KS; James Windholz, Lawrence, KS; Tim & Gretchen Windholz, Lawrence, KS

3rd Place

Happy Campers

Third Place Winner 
Receives a current year Festival Poster

Matthew Boyce, Emporia, KS; Megan Campbell, Americus, KS; Nate Campbell, Americus, KS; Mike Gieman, Augusta, KS; Debbie Gieman, Augusta, KS; Charlie Hamilton, Emporia, KS; Trey hamilton, Emporia, KS; Allison Hill, Belton, MO; Elizabeth Hill, Lehigh, KS; Julie Jantz, Emporia, KS; Daniel Kenney, Overland Park, KS; Sarah Kenney, Overland Park, KS; Brandon McGee, Emporia, KS; Justin Richardson, Emporia, KS; Jordyn Siebert, Emporia, KS; Paula Taylor, Emporia, KS; Tyler Wright, Kansas City

2023 Special Features

2023 Feisty Music Camp for Kids

6th Year of Feisty Music Camp Another Big Success!

The weather was perfect and Erin Mae Lewis and Aaron Fowler led a total of 115 kids through two afternoons of musical inspiration and fun, with activities including sing-alongs, storytelling, songwriting, rhythm games, music related crafts, and playing mountain dulcimers, ukuleles and spoons and special musical guests.

All who participated enjoyed performances by Roz Brown, The Haymakers, Tina Bergmann & Bryan Thomas, Les Gustafson-Zook, Elxa Dawson, JigJam and Andy May with Acoustic Kids. Thanks for making the day a little cooler by being there.

Special guests sharing their talents were Pink Elephant Camp, folk dance band, Dana Hamilton, folk dance caller. Lauralyn Bodle introduced the nyckelharpa to budding musicians. David Donner provided mountain dulcimer instruction and Wendy Songe provided ukulele instruction.  Carp Camp once again led the parade from the Information Booth to Stage VI.  Abby the Spoon Lady was as big a hit as her smile with her musical spoons.  Thanks for sharing your talents with our up and coming artists.

A Big Thank You go to the Stage 6 Crew for hosting the camp, Laura Dungan, Laura Hansen, Justin Lewis for helping with registration/set-up & clean-up; to Great Plains Dulcimer Alliance for the use of kids mountain dulcimers; and to Winfield Arts & Humanities for the use of kids ukuleles.  A Very Big Thanks go to the Walnut Valley Festival Grounds Crew who made sure we had plenty of ice water through the hot afternoons.

Don’t forget to watch for details Feisty Music Camp Version 7 happening in 2024

Cartoon Caption Contest is a Big Hit

The Cartoon Caption Contest featured in the WVA Voice during the festival was a big hit again this year.  Richard Crowson, a highly respected editorial cartoonist and friend of the festival, donated one of his drawings for WVF Fans to create a caption to go with it.  Your creativity came through with some funny and great captions.

Congratulations to Stan Grier from Wichita, Kansas for the winning caption.  Stan won a framed, color version of the cartoon with his caption included.  Thank you Stan, and all of you, for participating in the fun activity.

Haymakers at KAKE TV

Haymakers took time during their festival to visit KAKE TV to do a promo during the early morning news broadcast.  Thank you, Dustin Arbuckle, Tom Page, Anthony Trupia and Caleb Drummond for giving up valueable sleep time and demonstrate just how much fun and how great the music is at Walnut Valley Festival.

Click on the photo to see the full television segment.

Bob's Place Now Hosts Jam Sessions

Bob’s Place hosts monthly gatherings for those who want to take part in jam sessions or just watch.  Second Thursday is generally for beginners to intermediate pickers and fourth Saturday is for advanced pickers.  Anyone is welcome to attend either or both sessions.  Check the WVF Official Facebook page for postings on upcoming jams.  If you would like to be on the contact list, email hq@wvfest.com, in subject line, Picking at Bob’s Place.

Walnut Valley and D'Addario Partner to Recycle Strings

Did you know that musical instrument strings are not recycled through municipal recycling programs?  It is estimated that more than 1.5 million pounds of instrument string metal end up in landfills every year.  D’Addario’s goal is to help facilitate 100% recycling and upcycling of strings to minimize not just our own impact but the entire industry.  Walnut Valley is committed to collecting used strings to help reduce string waste and improve the conditions of our landfills.  Be sure to look for these recycle canisters at the 2024 festival.  You will find them in the interior and other locations to be announced closer to WVF52, September 19-22, 2024.  In the mean time, the recycle bins are located in our headquarters at 918 Main Street in Winfield, and next door at Bob’s Place. Check out D’Addario’s entire recycle program at daddario.com/playback/recycle

The Walnut Valley Association Says Thank You!

We would like to offer a special “thank you” to all those who attended the 51st Walnut Valley Festival.  Our grateful thanks also to all who worked extra hard under extreme circumstances to make it a success: Walnut Valley Workers, Staff and Crew; Artists and Craftsmen; Food Vendors, Sound; Sanitation; Security; the people of Winfield and Cowley County; and the City of Winfield.

The Entertainers
Darin & Brooke Aldridge
Appalachian Road Show
Helen Avakian & Dave Irwin
The Barefoot Movement
Tina Bergmann &
     Bryan Thomas
Roz Brown & Jim Ratts
Becky Buller Band
Chain Station
The Cowboy Way
Damn Tall Buildings
Green Flamingos
Les Gustafson-Zook
Sadie Gustafson-Zook
Shane Hennessy
Ernie Hill
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
Chris Jones & The
     Night Drivers
Andy May
Tim May & Steve Smith
John McCutcheon
Barry Patton
Pixie & the Partygrass Boys
Pretend Friend
Stephen Seifert
Mark Sganga
Frank Solivan &
     Dirty Kitchen
The Steel Wheels
Linda Tilton
Weda Skirts
Ann Zimmerman

Beautiful Music
     Violin Shop
Bourgeois Guitars
Collings Guitars
Deering Banjo Company
The Dulcimer Shoppe /
   McSpadden Dulcimers
Huss & Dalton
     Guitar Company
C.F. Martin & Co., Inc.
Master Works, Inc.
OME Banjos
Taylor Guitars
P. K. Thompson Guitars
Rick Thum Hammer
Schreiber Autoharps
Songbird Hammer
Whippoorwill Acoustics

The Acoustic Music
Blue Chip Picks
Elliott Capos
Fishman Transducers,
Landis Studios
Paige Capos
Prestige Monogram
Silver Pearl Designs
Solid Ground Stands
Sparks Music
Brendan White
     Jewelry Design
Wichita Hat Works
Wolf Hill Woodworking

Pre-Festival Workshops
Seth & Jenny Bate
Lee & Marcia Evans
First Baptist Church

Dan Cribbs
Pam Cribbs
Kevin Dean
Melinda Farris
Sandy Flottman
Sheridon Flottman
Sierra Flottman
Cindy Howard
Kris Junker
Larry Junker
Debbie McNinch

Feisty Music Camp
Erin Mae Lewis
Aaron Fowler
Stage 6
Leo Eilts
Roger Eilts
Great Plains Dulcimer
Winfield Arts &
     Humanities Council

Greg Smyer Sound
Stage Pro
Brick House Sound

WVA Friends
Kara Barnard
Debbie Carr
Derick Earls
Alan Rush
Betty Scott
Richard Sobek
Tim Thompson
Whiskey Mash Band

Emcee & Stage Managers
Keith Anglemyer
Seth Bate
Dave Bellavia
Betsy Beymer
Karla Campbell
Karen Deal
John DePew
Martha Farrell
Jesse Friesen
Orin Friesen
Jeni Grey
Dave Higgs
Jon Huber
Dennis LeFevre
Richard Lungstrum
Robin Macey
Steve Miller
Virginia Musser
Veronika Nelson
Duane Porterfield
Dick Powers
Charles Rafferty
Kathy Rogers
Josh Rood
Tim Sidebottom
Steve Snook
Andrea Springer
Christina Wark

Office Personnel
Rae Lynne Baker
Becky Conway
Karen Deal
Sarah Emrick
Marcia Evans
Rex Flottman
Larry J. Hittle
Bart Redford
Jessica Soto
Shelly Whitmore

Thank You.
Rick Meyer
Apr 20, 1952 – Sept 30, 2023
“Mr. Winfield”

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