Third annual Kentland Folk Life Festival celebrates local heritage

Kentland Farm Manor House

Kentland Farm Manor House

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 9, 2007 – The third annual Kentland Folk Life Festival, a collaborative effort between various Virginia Tech faculty and students and residents of communities in northwest Montgomery County, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Local residents will celebrate their agricultural and coal mining heritage through an exposé of local knowledge and culture at Virginia Tech’s premier agricultural research station, Kentland Farm, located along the New River in Whitethorn, Va. The event is free and open to the public.

Tours of the Manor House, which was completed circa 1832, will be conducted by professors and students from the department of interdisciplinary studies. An archeological excavation on the site of the former slave quarters will also be open to the public.

In 2003, a group of faculty in the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, along with representatives from surrounding communities formed the Kentland Historic Revitalization Committee.

“The committee’s long-range plans include developing a multicultural, community-based historic interpretive program for Kentland’s historic district, restoring the manor house for use as a retreat center, and establishing an interactive agricultural museum,” said Sam Cook, associate professor in interdisciplinary studies and the festival’s coordinator. “We also hope to integrate these activities with contemporary agendas of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences by using the site as a template for a program in agritourism that may help small farmers open new channels for income while regenerating a market for traditional and alternative farm products.”

In conjunction with Kentland slave descendants in the community of Wake Forest and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the committee has collected oral histories to determine and verify the location of the slave cemetery through non-intrusive archaeological techniques. The cemetery was commemorated in spring 2005. Last fall, excavations began on the site where the slave quarters previously stood. This excavation will be open to the public during the October 20 event.

The festival also is home to the Kentland Folk Art Sale, featuring art by local artists and artisans. Proceeds from these sales will be used to fund historic renovations of the manor house. There will also be live music.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences embraces the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The College nurtures intellect and spirit, enlightens decision-making, inspires positive change, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. It is home to the departments of Apparel, Housing & Resource Management; Communication; English; Foreign Languages & Literatures; History; Human Development; Interdisciplinary Studies; Music; Philosophy; Political Science; ROTC; Science and Technology in Society; Sociology; Theatre Arts; and the School of Education.