Music Festival celebrates 50 years, launches Future Fifty Fund

By Moazama Rafiqzad – Daily correspondent

The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival will turn 50 this summer, but even as festival organizers prepare to celebrate, festival president Dennis Lynch is making plans to secure the next 50 years.

The festival, presented by First Bank, will launch its 50th anniversary season by starting a fundraising campaign called the Future Fifty Fund to help the festival, a not-for-profit organization, raise $100,000 by the end of the year.

“This is designed to kick off the second half-century of the music festival in the strongest way possible,” said Lynch.

He recently remembered Orkney Springs as a precarious location to stage the festival at Shrine Mont Camp and Conference in Orkney Springs, at the bottom of Shenandoah County’s Great North Mountain.

“Thank goodness market analysts and focus groups weren’t around 50 years ago,” he said. “Can you imagine how much the so-called experts would have laughed at the idea of a world-class concert series in a village that small, in a county this rural? They would say ‘… And you are doing it outside?’ “ He couldn’t help laughing too.

“And yet, here it is, decades later, hundreds of thousands of great memories later, we are celebrating our 50th anniversary.”

“We’re asking everyone who’s ever been touched in some way by the music festival to contribute $50 to the Future Fifty Fund,” Lynch said. This amount is to represent $1 for each year the festival has been celebrated.

The first music festival concert was celebrated in 1963, to present symphonic music in the Shenandoah Valley, but since then the music has included many different genres from bluegrass to pop to rock ‘n’ roll.

This year’s music includes a wide selection of pop, classical, Celtic, bluegrass and rock. The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra will perform twice — a classical concert of “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony” to commemorate the orchestra’s own anniversary of performing Beethoven at the 1963 festival, and a pop performance of “An Enchanted Evening,” with Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein favorites.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason will open the season July 19.

“Also, nine-time Celtic fiddle champion Eileen Ivers, a longtime favorite with festival goers, will return,” said Lynch.

The festival is seeking volunteers, who will receive a free guest ticket for the event they choose to work.

There are eight concerts planned for the event this year; seven are listed on the website and the eighth will be posted soon, when the performance is decided. Ticket prices are also being finalized, and Lynch said the website will be updated soon. The previous admission price of $10 to anyone under the age of 18 will remain the same this year.

“All festival concerts are family-friendly,” said Lynch. “We love families. The festival is a wonderful multi-generational experience with two and sometimes three generations getting together to enjoy themselves with this wonderful, shared artistic experience.”

The festival will have an on-site food vendor, Shaffer’s Barbecue and Catering, which also offers vegetarian options. Guests can sit in the pavilion for certain performances, or roll out a blanket on the lawn under the stars and bring a picnic to enjoy during the concert. Picnics are not permitted in the pavilion seating area.

“There is also an ice cream tent…” Lynch added. “Ice cream and the music festival have a long history together.”

“Our message points are simple,” Lynch said. “Great, world-class music. Close by. Great value. Great fun. After you come there for the first time, we know you will want to come back. Oh, and bring a sweater or a sweatshirt… It is going to get chilly once the sun goes down.”

For more information on Shenandoah Valley Music Festival, to make contributions to the Future Fifty Fund, or to volunteer call 540-459-3396, email info@musicfest.org or visit www.musicfest.org.

The festival will include the following events:

July 19 — An Intimate Evening with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Dave Mason

July 20 — Shenandoah Valley Music Festival Blue Grass Mini-Fest with Nothin’ Fancy Headlining

July 26 — Classical Masterworks with The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra

July 27 — “An Enchanted Evening” of Rogers and Hammerstein tunes, with The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, guest conducted by Luke Frazier

Aug. 3 — Icon of American music, Kris Kristofferson

Aug. 9 — Five-Time Grammy winner Marty Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives

Aug. 31 — Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul

Sept. 1 — TBA

— Source: SVMF website