For the next five weeks, hundreds of people from throughout the United States and abroad will make Davis & Elkins College their destination to learn or enhance their skills in music, dance or heritage crafts as students of the Augusta Heritage Center. Some of their works and performances by nationally known artists are showcased in community concerts.
Augusta Heritage Center, currently in its 40th year, will culminate witht the weekend Augusta Festival scheduled for Aug. 10 - 12 in Elkins City Park.
Each week highlights a particular theme. This week focuses on early country music, Cajun/Creole and guitar.
Today, the public can attend Show and Sell from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on the porch of Halliehurst.
"Augusta students and staff sell instruments, recordings and whatever else they have that they want to put out," Marilyn Palmer Richards, Augusta's web coordinator, said.
Today's events also include a concert - the first of 11 throughout the season - at 8 p.m. in the newly renovated Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. The doors open for concert seating at 7:30 p.m. for anyone who wants to come early. Admission to the concert is purchased at the door.
"They've completely re-done it (the auditorium), put in new seats and everything," said Richards about the renovations.
The show will feature traditional Cajun, Creole, early country and guitar.
"Both concerts are Cajun and early country music," said Gerry Milnes, folk art coordinator, about the concerts slated for today and Thursday. "The Cajun dance will have fiddles and accordion, guitar, bass and drums."
Musical entertainment will be provided by Wayne Henderson, Kelli Jones-Savoy and Joel Savoy, Walter Mouton, Brett Ratliff, Ginny Hawker & Friends, and more. The master of ceremonies will be John Lilly.
A silent auction will be open for bidding throughout the evening, stopping when the lights blink at the end of intermission for Thursday's concert, Richards said.
Today's concert will be followed by a Cajun dance with Jason Frey, Al Berard and Charlie Terr in the open-air Augusta Pavilion.
Richards said that on Wednesday evening, the air around Halliehurst's porch will be filled with the bold scent of cayenne pepper, onions and sausage from Louisiana.
Jackie Miller, assisted by D&E's Judie Smith, will teach a Cajun cooking class during which students will prepare and serve gumbo and potato salad for the annual Fais Do-Do (Cajun party) at around 8 p.m.
Miller, from Iota, La., has been part of Augusta Heritage Center's summer programs for over 20 years.
Richards said that when asked about her recipe, Miller said, "No two gumbos are alike. Everybody makes the best gumbo." The food will be followed by Cajun music and dancing.
There is no admission charge for the Fais Do-Do, but donations will be accepted. All proceeds go to the Cajun/Creole Week Scholarship Fund. Last year more than $1,000 was raised, and the goal this year is to raise even more. These scholarships have provided support to dozens of students throughout the years, Richards said.
Also on Wednesday, musicians will gather in Elkins City Park for Pickin' in the Park from 7 to 10 p.m.
"That's a community event," Milnes said.
Milnes said Mary Flower will be featured in the "8 p.m. guitar concert" on Wednesday.
From 6:15 - 7:45 p.m. on Thursday in the Hermanson Center Lobby, will be a Craft Showcase.
Also on Thursday, the second concert will take place at 8 p.m., doors open for seating by 7:30 p.m. in the Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. The concert will feature musical entertainment by Jack Williams, Ed and Ryan Poullard, Courtney Granger with Christine Balfa, David Greely and Joel Savoy, and Bill Kirchen. The master of ceremonies will be Joyce Rossbach.
Following Thursday's concert is a Zydeco Dance at the Augusta Pavillion. The dance will feature music by Miguel Fontenot & the Zydeco Stompers.
Another dance will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday at the pavilion, featuring music by Walter Mouton & Friends. For more information, call the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College at 304-637-1209.