By Mike Templeton

On Saturday May 4, from 12:00 – 6:00 pm, the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition’s Lower Price Hill Appalachian Festival returns just as strong and exciting as ever. Formerly known as the Appalachian MiniFest, as it is a much smaller and more intimate event than the larger festival to be held at Old Coney the following weekend. Held in the Sanctuary at 2110 St. Michael Street in Lower Price Hill, Lower Price Hill Appalachian Festival is meant to celebrate our Appalachian roots and our urban Appalachian presence in Cincinnati. As one of the most prominent of the historically urban Appalachian neighborhoods, Lower Price Hill has always been something of a central hub for the work of UACC and the Urban Appalachian Council before. This event is held in the old style: by simply clearing some space for people to gather around food and music.

This event is especially dear to the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition since it is something of a family reunion for members, family, and friends of UACC. This year will include everything folks have come to love about the Festival with some new and exciting features to add. As usual, there will be food and music, dancing and storytelling, and mostly visiting and enjoying a day for celebrating the urban Appalachian presence in Greater Cincinnati. All, Appalachian or other, are invited to attend. Organizer Nancy Laird says, “This is an event we look forward to all year, and it would not be possible without the help of so many community members.”

Food will be provided by Donna Jones and Donna Fletcher and will include Appalachian staples of soup beans, cornbread, green beans, potatoes, and fried cabbage. This is just to get things started. There will also be space for potluck. In the past, homemade pies have been something of a destination for the foodies and the food-curious. At any rate, there will be plenty to eat, and folks will need some fuel to keep up with the musical line-up.

For many people familiar with the Lower Price Hill Appalachian Festival, everything hangs on the music for the day. The celebration of all things urban Appalachian turns on the music of Appalachia, and we are genuinely blessed to have some of the finest talent in traditional Appalachian music in the entire country. Things will kick off with The Farmer and the Crow, which is Dale Farmer and Ma Crow’s smaller musical venture. But small is a relative term here. Anyone familiar with Ma Crow and Dale Farmer know the musical blast that comes from these two is anything but small. Music will feature throughout the day with the Rabbit Hash Band and Carter Bridge, just to name a couple of acts that stand out. And since so many people in greater Cincinnati play traditional Appalachian music, there will be an open Jam Session to lead things out at the end of the day from 5:30 to 6:00. Bring your guitar and/or your fiddle, and if you do not play an instrument, be prepared to sing along. Most people will be singing and dancing throughout the day anyway.

Something new this year that is deserving of some special attention is the “Kith and Kin Story Gathering Project.” UACC has partnered with fellow nonprofit A Picture’s Worth, led by UACC Core Member Elissa Yancey, to create spaces for friends–old and new–to share stories and help shape Urban Appalachian history. From 1-4 pm, we’ll have trained story gatherers on hand to engage with any festival attendee who would like to share a story about what family means to them. As an extension of UACC’s ongoing story project work, these “family” stories will be connected to a photo or object selected by the person who wants to share as a way to focus the conversation and dig deeper into the myriad ways that “family” shows up in our lives and communities. We will also be collecting stories at the Appalachian Festival at Coney Island on Mother’s Day Weekend.  Read more about Kith and Kin Story Gathering Project here.

It is worth noting that the Kith and Kin partnership is part of UACC’s strategic planning process that took place over the last year and highlighted the need for ongoing story collection and archiving. Elissa Yancey, Executive and Creative Director of A Picture’s Worth (and a UACC Core Members) says, “We’re thrilled to partner with UACC to expand and explore new ways of gathering and sharing stories about our cultures and our values. Being able to connect with community members and collect their stories in an organized and sustainable way feels like an extension of what we’ve always done as an organization: build relationships and understanding through story.” The Lower Price Hill Appalachian Festival continues to grow with everything going on with UACC.

Everyone with the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition is excited about the Festival. It is our way of celebrating urban Appalachian life and culture in Greater Cincinnati. The event is small enough to feel homey and lively enough to never run out things to do. Again, the Lower Price Hill Appalachian Festival will be held on Saturday May 4, from 12:00 – 6:00 pm, the Lower Price Hill Appalachian Festival held in the Sanctuary at 2110 St. Michael Street in Lower Price Hill.

Mike Templeton is a writer, independent scholar, barista, cook, guitar player, and accidental jack-of-all-trades. He is the author of The Chief of Birds: A Memoir, available from Erratum Press, and Impossible to Believe, forthcoming from Iff Books. Check out his profile in UACC’s Cultural Directory. He lives in West Milton, Ohio with his wife who is a talented photographer. They spend their free time walking around the city and the country snapping photos. She looks up at the grandeur above, while Mike always seems to be staring at the ground.

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