Every summer, Asheville returns to its Appalachian roots with evenings full of bluegrass, banjos, musical spoons, and folk dancing. Shindig on the Green, the long-running festival dedicated to folk + traditional music, started earlier this month and will continue every Saturday through September 1 at Pack Square Park.
This year, Shindig turns 52. 🎉 And, unlike many other festivals, the audience (up to 5,000 for each performance) is encouraged to get involved, by playing their favorite folk music in informal circles that spring up around the park.
To get us all in the mood, we put together a festival timeline, so you can tell all of your friends the backstory while you’re pickin’ away into the night. 🎵
A Timeline of Shindig on The Green
Musician and folk historian Bascom Lamar Lunsford (a.k.a the “Minstrel of the Appalachians”) organized the traditional folk and mountain musicians and dancers to perform at the Rhododendron Festival (which lasted until 1942 – but there is one at Roan Mountain State Park about an hour and a half from Asheville).
Fun fact: This is the same year that penicillin was discovered and Mickey Mouse appeared for the first time in “Steamboat Willie.”
The collection of mountain performers breaks off and creates their own event, called Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, was held at McCormick Field (which opened in 1924). That event is still happening; this year’s is August 2–4 and tickets are on sale now. ⚾
Shindig on the Green was founded as an offshoot by the Heritage Folk Committee of the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival to provide an opportunity for musicians to perform outside on summer nights in the city. Talk about an ultimate jam session. 🎶
DYK: The word “shindig” is derived from the old English word “shindy,” which was used to describe a noisy dance party?
Shindig on the Green turns 52, and the Folk Heritage Committee celebrates 90 years of keeping Appalachian culture alive. The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival is officially the first and oldest continuously-running folk festival in the nation (it’s looking great for its age at 91 year old).
Okay so now that we have the history down, what about the fest? Unlike most festivals, it doesn’t have a lineup, and musicians are able to just hop on stage + jam out.
How To Shindig Like A Pro
Every Saturday night around sundown (or 7 p.m.) through September 1, except for July 28 and August 1
Roger McGuire Green at Pack Square Park (see our tips on where to park below ⬇)
🎶 Who’s Playing
Unlike other music fests, Shindig on the Green doesn’t have a lineup. The local bluegrass band Stoney Creek Boys has been the host band for decades, and any other musicians who play traditional music are welcome to hop up on stage + play (or start a jam session in the park).
So while you may not know who’s going to play, you may recognize the people that do play. In past years, guest musicians have included 11-time Grammy winner + fiddle player Bobby Hicks and singer-songwriter David Holt. Musicians heading to the Swannanoa Gathering, held during the summer on the campus of Warren Wilson College, will also come into town early to play at the Shindig.
🎒What To Bring
✔A picnic dinner
✔ Bug spray
✔ Blankets, lawn chairs, and other comfy things to sit on
✔ A few dollars for parking (or your phone with a parking app) if you’re going to be early. Parking downtown is free after 6. The closest parking deck is the Buncombe County Parking Garage, located directly left of the Courthouse and City Hall at 164 College St.
What To Leave At Home
✖ Your furry friends (unless they’re service animals). The City of Asheville doesn’t allow pets at special outdoor events.
✖ Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products
For many of us native Ashevillians, summer and Shindig on the Green are pretty much synonymous. I personally can’t think of a better way to wile away a warm evening than by relaxing under the stars + the city lights while the sweet sounds of mountain music float over me.
Is the Shindig a time-honored tradition for you and your family? Or are you new to the tradition? Let us know by replying to this email, or tell us over on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. See you at the Shindig!