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Raccoon County Music Festival is set for Aug. 16 in Burton

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Burton – Traditional music – bluegrass, old-time, blues, folk, polka, calypso and more – will be the centerpiece of a day-long festival on Saturday, Aug. 16 in the Geauga County village of Burton.

The Raccoon County Music Festival, which runs from noon to 8 p.m. in downtown Burton, will feature performances on two stages, square dancing, spontaneous jamming and workshops for children (blues guitar and songwriting) and adults (clogging and old-time banjo). There will be food for sale at the festival, but event-goers are also permitted to bring their own meals as well as chairs and blankets.

Admission is $10 for those ages 13 and older; $4 for children ages 6-12; and free for children under 6.

The festival will be held at the Geauga County Historical Society’s Century Village Museum, 14653 East Park St., Burton. Historical village buildings and the Crossroads museum store will be open. The event is sponsored by the historical society.

For up-to-date information on the event schedule, visit www.raccooncountymusicfestival.com or the festival’s Facebook page.

The Raccoon County Music Festival brings excellent local and regional musicians together for one day of traditional American music. What distinguishes each of festival performers is that each has dedicated himself or herself for years to learning and expanding the tradition.

Performers this year will include Geauga County’s Kate & Ray Ritchie (folk songs), Cleveland’s The Polka Pirates (polka), Ashtabula County-based Young & Blue (bluegrass), Lakewood based Kristine Jackson (blues), Washington D.C. based Bill Schmidt & Friends (old-time), Cleveland’s The SpYder Stompers & Sister Sugar Pie (Pre-War Country Blues), Geauga County’s The Family Dog (folk and originals), The Five Islands (early calypso), Brady Lake’s Tina Bergmann & Bryan Thomas (hammered dulcimer & bass), and Sacred Harp (traditional Appalachian singing).

About the festival name: It comes from the name of the host county, Geauga, which is said to be derived from the word “sheauga,” a Native American word meaning “raccoon.”

About the festival’s origins: The first Raccoon County Music Festival was held on July 4, 1977, a year after the National Bicentennial had cultivated countrywide interest in American history and tradition. The festival was originally conceived as a venue for the performance of tunes and songs passed down through the generations via the oral tradition. Over the years, the festival has taken many forms, but it has always focused on traditional American music. In the past, festival events have included fiddle, banjo, and flat picking guitar contests, an open stage, clogging, fiddle workshops, spontaneous “jamming” and main stage performances by local and nationally touring performers.

About the festival’s history: Raccoon County Music Festival was a yearly event from 1977 until 1989. Thereafter the festival was held intermittently until finally it stopped running after 1999. In 2006, the festival was revived as a celebration of the Geauga County Bicentennial.

You probably didn’t know: In 1987, a young Alison Kraus & Union Station graced the festival stage at Century Village Museum. And from 1982 to 1988, Jim Blum, the WKSU folk music radio personality and Geauga County resident, directed and hosted the festival.

About the sponsors: The mission of the Geauga County Historical Society is to ensure that the history of Geauga County is preserved for the education and appreciation of present and future generations. The historical society was founded in 1873 for the express purpose of “collecting and preserving interesting facts pertaining to the early settlement” of the county. The society’s Century Village Museum is an authentic representation of a Western Reserve Village from 1798 to the turn of the 19th Century. It boasts more than 22 historically accurate buildings and more 15,000 museum artifacts that include original art from the 1800’s, antiques, textiles and more.

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