Virginia Folklife Program, Charlottesville, United States

The Virginia Folklife Program (VFP), a public program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is dedicated to the documentation, presentation, and support of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. Whether sung or told, hand-crafted or performed, Virginia’s rich Folklife refers to those “arts of everyday life” that reflect a sense of traditional knowledge and connection to community.

The Virginia Folklife Program was established in 1989 as part of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, with support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and major funding from the NEA Folk Arts Program & the Virginia Commission for the Arts — a collaborative effort initiated by the Virginia Folklore Society.

Due largely to funding made available by the National Endowment for the Arts, most U.S. states and territories have folklife or folk arts programs, typically based with state arts councils or historical societies. The basic mission of the Virginia Folklife Program is much like that of other state programs:

to document the diverse folk traditions of Virginia;
to advance understanding and appreciation of traditional culture through the development of public programs;
to reinforce folk traditions by
honoring and providing support services for traditional artists and performers, and
helping communities develop plans and projects to strengthen their own cultural traditions.
The Virginia Folklife Program, however, is the only folklife program in the nation based with a state humanities council, and this has given us several unique and important opportunities:

emphasizing fieldwork as the basis for program development;
documenting & presenting Folklife as well as Folk Arts
responding to critical, ethical, ethnographic and political issues concerning the representation of culture.
These opportunities have allowed the VFP to:

explore alternative formats for public presentation of folklife in order to maximize interpretive content;
emphasize media technology to:
document cultural traditions in the natural context of the social life of the communities in which they thrive;
more effectively present and more accurately represent and interpret traditional culture through documentary media products; and
enhance the interpretive content of public folklife programs by innovative use of contextualizing media;
experiment with new approaches to program implementation so as to:
promote community participation in researching, documenting, presenting, and interpreting;
develop local expertise in and advocacy for folklife;
plan initiatives with long-range benefits for traditional artists, other indigenous cultural specialists, and their communities.

Virginia Foundation’s Virginia Folklife Program has once again partnered with Shepherds Ford Productions as a supporter of Watermelon Park Festival. Watermelon Park was the site of the nation’s first bluegrass festival in 1960. After years of hiatus, the festival was revived more than ten years ago and features some of the finest in bluegrass and beyond.

Watermelon Park Fest is a family-friendly music festival created by Shepherds Ford Productions that is located on the Shenandoah River just outside of Berryville, VA. Festivities include Concerts, Dances, Workshops, Band & Pickin’ Contests, Kid’s Activities, Open Jams, Food & Craft Vendors, and more!

Many favorites and impressive of the Virginia Folklife Program will perform, such as: The Legendary Ingramettes will once again throw down at Sunday morning’s gospel set, Cabin Creek Boys, Furnace Mountain.

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities connects people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement.

VFH connects people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. By supporting and producing cultural, civic, local, and global educational programs for broad public audiences, VFH encourages discovery and connection through the humanities.

Since its founding in 1974, it has grown to become the largest and most diversely funded state humanities council in the country, producing more than 40,000 humanities programs including festivals, public radio programs, and digital resources, and contributing to more than 3,500 grant projects and 350 individual and collaborate fellowships.

Through scholarship and dialogue, we explore the past to discover our future. When people and ideas connect, our days are more meaningful, our solutions more thoughtful and creative, and our futures more promising. We thrive and grow together.

In just over 40 years, we’ve produced more than 40,000 humanities programs in Virginia and beyond. They promote lifelong learning, public dialog, and community engagement.

Our efforts are educational in nature, but civic in practice. Alongside our festivals, publications, conferences, and radio programs, we’ve contributed to over 3,500 grant projects, and 350 individual and collaborative fellowships.

VFH is able to do this work thanks in part to a unique partnership with the University of Virginia. Our statewide headquarters are in Charlottesville at the University, and VFH functions as both a non-academic department of UVA and an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.