“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Whitetop in Grayson County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

White Top Folk Festival

White Top Folk Festival Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, May 26, 2013
1. White Top Folk Festival Marker
Inscription. The White Top Folk Festival was held annually from 1931 to 1939, (except 1937) on Whitetop Mountain—the second highest peak in Virginia. Annabel Morris Buchanan, John Powell, and John A. Blakemore organized the event that featured banjo players, fiddlers, string bands, and ballad singers, as well as storytelling, clog dancing, morris and sword dancing, and theatrical presentations. Thousands of people attended the festival each year, including nationally known academic folklorists, art critics, composers, and in 1933 First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The festival was cancelled in 1940 because of heavy rains and floods and never resumed.
Erected 2001 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number UE-9.)
Location. 36° 37.745′ N, 81° 35.237′ W. Marker is near Whitetop, Virginia, in Grayson County. Marker is at the intersection of Whitetop Mountain Road (County Route 600) and Mud Creek Lane, on the left when traveling north on Whitetop Mountain Road. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Whitetop VA 24292, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Whitetop (approx. 1.2 miles away); Christmas Tree Farms (approx.
White Top Folk Festival Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, May 26, 2013
2. White Top Folk Festival Marker
3 miles away); “Virginia Creeper” Railroad (approx. 3 miles away); Green Cove Station (approx. 3.2 miles away); “Maud Bows to The Virginia Creeper” (approx. 3.2 miles away); John Deere Mower Model 2 (approx. 5.4 miles away); Grayson County (approx. 5.5 miles away); North Carolina / Virginia (approx. 8 miles away in North Carolina). Click for a list of all markers in Whitetop.
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia Entry. The idea for the festival came to John Blakemore after a local musician suggested holding a Fourth of July fiddler's contest on Whitetop Mountain. Blakemore mentioned it to his cousin, John Buchanan, who told his wife, Annabel. Annabel Buchanan, a talented musician and music teacher, had been putting on small music programs around Marion, Virginia, for several years. She discussed the idea with her friend, classical composer John Powell. Blakemore, Buchanan, and Powell began planning for a music festival that included more than the original idea of a fiddler’s contest. They decided that they would consider only “old
1933 White Top Folk Festival Photograph image. Click for full size.
From the Collection of the Library of Virginia
3. 1933 White Top Folk Festival Photograph
Eleanor Roosevelt (center) with festival contestants Frank Blevins (fiddle), Jack Reedy (banjo), Edd Blevins (guitar), and six-year-old mandolin sensation, Muriel Dockery.
time” music and disallowed “modern songs, tunes, or dances.” The first festival was scheduled for August 15, 1931. The inaugural White Top Folk Festival drew around 3,000 spectators and hosted around three dozen musicians and groups. The musicians competed for monetary prizes, which were especially attractive during the Depression days. The 1932 festival was similar in format but slightly larger and stretched over two days. It included handicraft exhibits, square dances, and a winner's program. Nearly 4,000 people attended to watch over 75 individual and group performers. In 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to Buchanan expressing interest in attending the festival. Blakemore, who was politically powerful in the area, had the roads to the festival improved in anticipation of the crowds Roosevelt’s visit would draw. More than 12,000 people attended the festival in 1933. (Submitted on June 8, 2013.) 

2. .
Whitetop Folk Festival, 1930s, William “Bud” Spencer flatfooting (Submitted on June 8, 2013.) 
Categories. Arts, Letters, Music
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 357 times since then and 72 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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