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20th Anniversary Mountain Heritage Festival Sept. 20

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Loose StringsIn celebration of our 20th anniversary of the Mountain Heritage Festival, this year, more bands will grace the stage. Four local bands and the Junior Appalachian Musicians will take the stage on September 20 beginning at 10am. Loose Strings, an all-female group, from Galax, VA is known for their tight vocal harmonies and sweet rhythms.

Band members Grace Wilson, Channing Russell, Lindsey Nale and Ashley Nale, create a unique style as they all play an instrument and sing. Loose Strings has won many contests, one of which allowed them to play at the little Nashville Palace in Nashville TN. They have also traveled to Ohio where they were recognized as the “best entertainment” of the entire travel expo in Columbus. They were also honored to play at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) this past year in Raleigh N.C. We are excited to have this group join the lineup this year and we hope you enjoy their music.

Sparta’s own group, 5Play, will also take the stage during the Mountain Heritage Festival. This band, led by Kerry Martin, will provide a mix of country and southern rock hits. Hard Cider, a Grayson County, VA, acoustic band will also take the stage. Band members, Jerry Lee Martin, Brett Morris Martin, Rodney Hodges, Tammy Sawyer, and Stanley Widener are known for their award winning old time string band. The Hard Cider sound showcases many songs written by band founders, Jerry Lee & Brett Martin (husband and wife). In addition to some classic cover songs, you can hear more than one musical influence in addition to the basic old time and bluegrass traditions, such as country rock and singer-songwriter “Americana.” Their music has something for everyone, from traditional string band dance music to murder ballads, love songs and a few jazz beats.

The Rise and Shine Band is the house band at the Alleghany Jubilee, located in the former Spartan Theater on Sparta’s Main Street, and is a regular on the Mountain Heritage Stage. They accompany the contestants on the famous Possum Queen Contest that closes out the festival. One of the area’s premier bluegrass bands, it draws talent from Sparta and the surrounding mountain communities. The band is led by Ernest Joines, mandolin, and includes: Billy Dancy, banjo; Wade Petty, fiddle; Kermit Pruitt, bass; Charlie Edwards, vocals and guitar; and Charlie Kinzer, guitar.

This year, the festival will add a new event, The Soap Box Derby. Drivers will race their cars down South Main Street from the Sparta Presbyterian Church to the Alleghany County office building. The competition will begin at 1p with registration starting at 11am. Each car will participate in at least three heats with the top three finishers receiving a prize. For those interested in participating, please review the rules and regulations and call or visit the Alleghany Chamber of Commerce for more information 800-372-5473.

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