NEW MARTINSVILLE – A homecoming sort of thing will be celebrated in New Martinsville this weekend, and you don’t have to be from the town of the Northern Panhandle to stop by and participate in the hometown festivities.
In fact, visitors from across the country should call Wetzel County home for the next three days as they gather for the Back Home Festival 2021, which kicks off today.
Some of the best touring artists of the popular music scene will take the stage again during the three-day arts and music festival, and best of all, it’s a free event.
Launched in 2017, what was originally known as the Back Home Appalachian Music & Arts Festival immediately created a sensation as a free event offering top-notch musical entertainment. The festival grew through word of mouth from attendees who enjoyed the welcoming setting which is a cross between a music and art festival and a hometown community celebration showcasing what New Martinsville has to offer. to offer.
“Our organization, the Wetzel County Convention and Visitors Bureau, has the primary objective of stimulating tourism in our community”, Robby Parsons, executive director of the Wetzel County CVB, said. âUnlike some other counties in the state, we don’t have traditional tourist attractions. As such, we need to find creative ways to attract visitors. We could spend our money the traditional wayâ¦ but we decided to be creative in our approach.
Investing those tourist dollars in an event that draws people of all ages to the city for a fun, relaxed weekend has paid off.
“It seems to work. Since the inception of the Back Home Festival, Wetzel County has led the state of West Virginia in percentage increase in direct tourism spending, â Parsons said.
The range of bluegrass, roots-rock, folk and jam band music seems to suit the tastes of many different fans. This heart of the festival and the unique way it is delivered really sets Back Home apart from other events of its kind.
“Well, for starters, it’s a music festival with no entry, which is unique in itself,” Parsons said. âWe bring in world-class musicians and don’t charge the audience to come and see them. What we have done that is different from traditional community celebrations is that the main focus of what we do is music. Often, music is an afterthought of local festivals. At our event, this is the heart of what we do.
After gaining momentum in the first few years, Back Home – like all other public events – was forced to cancel last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the core lineup has been kept from the event that was slated for 2020, and this year’s event is taking place at an ideal time, as health guidelines now allow community gatherings to resume safely.
“It was absolutely great to be able to plan this festival”, Parsons said. âIt was a real shame to have to cancel the festival last year, but it was the right decision. It’s just nice to find some semblance of normalcy and in doing so bring some incredible entertainment to County Wetzel.
All outdoor music is free, and special shows inside the historic Lincoln Theater will take place for a small fee.
The music kicks off today, Friday June 25 at 6 p.m. with Emi Shunshine & the Rain, followed by Buffalo Rose at 7:30 p.m. and Sam Bush at 9 p.m.
The late night at Lincoln Theater will be Fletcher’s Grove, followed by a late night Silent Disco show by KR-3 on Friday and Saturday nights.
Saturday’s music will begin at the Lincoln Theater with the Derek Woods Band at noon. Outdoors, Chance McCoy takes the stage at 2 p.m., followed by the Glen Strother Project at 3:30 p.m., Saxsquatch at 5 p.m., The Commonheart at 6 p.m., ekoostik hookah at 7:30 p.m., and wet the night at 9 p.m., Melvin Seals and JGB.
An extravagant Bob Dylan 80th birthday show with Odds & Ends featuring special New Age guests Adenas will be the final show at the Lincoln Theater.
Sundays at the Lincoln Theater, Izzy “Captain Dirtbeard” Stetar & Austin Alexander conduct Back Home Church at 10 a.m., followed by a noon performance by the Sara Hulse Band. Outside on Sunday there will be Logan Halstead at 3:30 p.m., Ezra & The Relativs at 5:00 p.m., Johnny Staats & The Delivery Boys at 6:30 p.m. and Larry Keel Experience at 8:00 p.m., followed by fireworks .
In addition, there will be workshops, an array of artisans and craft vendors, beer and food vendors, and free camping at the marina for festival-goers, as well as shuttle services to the fields. off-site camping.
“A popular sentiment we hear all the time is that the Back Home Festival is the favorite music festival that people attend each year,” Parsons said. âI have heard of Woodstock des Appalachians many times. I encourage everyone to check it out at least once. If that’s not your scene, at least you won’t get the money.
For more information, visit www.backhomefestival.com or the official social media pages.