Winfield, Kansas—Officials at Walnut Valley Association (WVA) have announced that a virtual Walnut Valley Festival in September, dubbed WVF 48.5, will include a week’s worth of activities to be held in conjunction with an online fundraising campaign. Funds raised will go to the lineup of entertainers taking part in the online event, and will also help pay for production costs for both the virtual festival and for the 49th Festival in 2021. The online events included in the fundraiser will take place September 12-20.
Over the weekend of September 12-13, a series of workshops will be held via Zoom for those wishing to learn from the masters. These workshops will be hands-on sessions intended to help patrons improve their skills on instruments of their choice. This virtual instruction will replace the workshops that are usually held on the Wednesday before festival officially gets underway on grounds, where artists engage patrons in a day’s worth of efforts to improve their mastery of everything from vocals to instrument playing to songwriting skills.
On Wednesday, September 16, there will be a special evening concert with John McCutcheon, devoted to “Maintaining a Sense of Community in COVID-19.”
On Thursday, September 17, a special Champions Showcase concert will stream in the evening, with performances by the winners of last year’s instrument contests—the International Autoharp Championship, International Finger-Style Guitar Championship, the National Mountain Dulcimer Championship, National Mandolin Championship, Walnut Valley Old-Time Fiddle Championship, National Flat Pick Guitar Championship, National Hammer Dulcimer Championship and National Bluegrass Banjo. Information on those winners can be found at www.wvfest.com/contest-winners/.
On Friday, September 18, a special edition of the NewSong Showcase will be offered online in the evening. The NewSong Showcase offers a chance for aspiring songwriters to submit their work for review by a professional songwriter/artist, with the opportunity to appear on stage at one of two sets during the festival. This year the top participants will be asked to record videos of their performance, which will then be streamed on Friday evening. The Showcase features ten categories, including songs about Winfield, Children, Religion/Spirit, Feelin’ Blue, Instrumental, Sweet Memories, Love Songs, Better World, Humor and None of the Above. This year entries may be made entirely online, allowing participants to upload their song and accompanying lyrics, rather than sending in CDs by mail. For additional info, check https://www.wvfest.com/newsong-showcase/. Deadline for entries is August 1.
In a nod to the talented local and regional bands who annually attend the festival, putting in a full week of appearances at campground stages and picking sessions on grounds, WVF 48.5 will include a virtual Battle of the Bands. Beginning in August, WVA’s website will begin accepting entries in an online contest open to any band that has never performed as part of Winfield’s official lineup. Bands will be able to submit videos of their performances, which will be posted to the festival website. Fans will then have a chance to vote for favorite bands, using vote buttons that also contribute funds to support the cause. One of the prizes for band winners will the opportunity to play at the 49th Walnut Valley Festival, in 2021.
Saturday and Sunday, September 19-20, will be devoted to streaming concerts by artists who were scheduled to perform in Winfield. The performances are being recorded specifically for this event. Throughout the week, the staff of Feisty’s Music Camp for Kids will also be offering sing-a-longs and online mural projects, and Andy May’s legacy of Acoustic Kids will be featured as well.
Winfield’s Legacy Foundation and Winfield Arts and Humanities Council have agreed to facilitate the fundraising aspect of the event. Sixty percent of the funds raised will be split equally between all of the artists in the lineup taking part. The remaining forty percent will be used by WVA to pay for production costs of WVF 48.5 as well as to get ready for its 49th Walnut Valley Festival in 2021. To aid in fundraising, Elk Falls Pottery and Art Farm Screen Printing & Design have agreed to produce special mugs and t-shirts to reward donors.
WVA Executive Director Bart Redford: “One of the things that impressed us so much as we reached out to this year’s performers about our decision to postpone the festival, was how many of them expressed their support and asked how they might help. These were people, artists and agents, who had been getting these cancellation calls for months on end, telling us what a special place Winfield held in their hearts and asking us what they could do. So we decided that by taking WVF 48.5 virtual we could help one another get through this global pandemic together—artists, festival-goers, WVA–until we can all meet in person once again.
Fans should watch the Walnut Valley Festival official website and Facebook page for details and links for WVF 48.5.