Pattyfest returns June 2 at East Fairmont High

MORGANTOWN — If Beth Sherman has missed Pattyfest since its inception in 2000, she can’t remember.

The retired music teacher met the festival’s namesake, the late Patty Looman, about 35 years ago.

“She was playing dulcimer at another festival. … She was a retired school teacher too and we bonded through that,” the Lost Creek resident said. “I never took private lessons with her but attended her workshops and learned a lot from her. The way I played, I thought I was doing something wrong. But she told me, ‘You have your own style. It’s something you’re developing and you should stay with that. You’re doing fine.’ ”

That helpful bit of guidance is just one example of why Sherman said Pattyfest — set for 9 a.m.-9 p.m. June 2 at East Fairmont High School — celebrates Looman and honors her memory. The hammered dulcimer player, who passed away in 2012, grew up in Mannington. In addition to performing, she taught both the lap and hammered dulcimer to many.

“She was so patient and kind and a very sweet lady,” Sherman said. “At Pattyfest, we play her style of music and teach as much as possible.”

The free one-day old-time music gathering includes workshops, on-stage performances and plenty of informal jamming.

Sherman, who’s a member of the Mountaineer Dulcimer Club, which helps organize the event, said she plans to teach a workshop or two, and assist wherever she’s needed.

The workshops, which begin at 9:30 a.m., focus on fiddle, guitar, banjo, bowed psaltry, hammered dulcimer, lap dulcimer, ukulele, mandolin, autoharp, harp, harmonica, penny whistle, dodhran, slow jam, song, upright bass and spoons.

“We teach all age levels,” Sherman said. “It’s a good place to learn all types of traditional and old-time music.”

Stage performances begin at noon and jamming can happen anywhere throughout the day.

There will also be food for purchase in the cafeteria, including West Virginia traditional delicacies and vegetarian options.

“It’s just such a nice day,” Sherman said. “You can eat, play or just listen. No one is turned away. We just want to keep the music alive.”

  • Pattyfest is set for 9 a.m.-9 p.m. June 2 at East Fairmont High School. There is no admission fee. Alcoholic beverages and pets are prohibited on high school grounds. Find info and register for workshops and open-stage performances at pattyfest.org.
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