The annual Raccoon County Music Festival will once again bring excellent local and regional musicians together for one day of traditional American music including bluegrass, old-time, blues, folk, polka, and more by distinguished, dedicated performers. Burton’s Century Village Museum will feature performances on four stages, a fiddle contest, square dancing, children’s songs and games, clogging and spontaneous jamming. 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.
Performers this year will include The Family Dog (Folk and Rock), Austin “Walkin’ Cane” (Blues), Roger Cooper Stringband (OId-Time and Swing Fiddle), Pitch the Peat (Irish), The Stoney River Band (Bluegrass), Chardon Polka Band (Polka), Bobby and Karl Smakula (Old-Time), Young & Blue Bluegrass Band (Bluegrass), Hot Djang (Gypsy Jazz), Wallace Coleman (Chess Era Blues) and Sacred Harp (Traditional Appalachian Singing).
In addition, there will be a fiddle contest, square dancing with caller Lynn Frederick and The House Old-Time Players, children’s songs and games, open mic, and clogging workshops with Laura Lewis Kovac and Charlie Burton. Festival-goers are also encouraged to become part of the show by spontaneously jamming – starting a jam and playing all day.
A little Raccoon County Music Festival history might be interesting. The name 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.” The first 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.
The Raccoon County Music Festival was a yearly event from 1977 until 1989. Thereafter, the festival was held intermittently until it finally stopped running after 1999. In 2006, the festival was revived as a celebration of the Geauga County Bicentennial. 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.
The Raccoon County Music Festival runs from noon to 8 p.m. on August 18 at the Geauga County Historical Society’s Century Village Museum, 14653 East Park St., Burton. Admission is $10 for those ages 13 and older; $4 for children ages 6-12; and free for children under 6. Historical village buildings and the Crossroads museum store will be open.
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 than 15,000 museum artifacts that include original art from the 1800s, antiques, textiles, and more.
The nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy seeks to preserve the scenic beauty, rural character and natural resources of northern Ohio. The Land Conservancy, which is based in Chesterland, has helped preserve more than 420 properties and approximately 30,000 acres.