Megan E. Darby, Director of the Glenville State College Bluegrass Music Program in West Virginia, has announced that she is stepping down from her other position as President of the West Virginia State Folk Festival.
It seems that Miss Megan, as she is known to her students, realized that she had too many irons in the fire, heading up the GSC bluegrass program, and running their Pioneer Stage venue, on top of raising two young daughters as a single mom. She had spent the past three years heading up the festival staff, and feels that they are in a much better position than when she came in, as she put it in a letter to the festival community at the start of events earlier this month.
“In 2019, the organization was in a time of transition. At that time, I was honored and humbled to be selected President, and I feel more so today knowing the true weight of the responsibilities in a non-profit and volunteer-based organization. I embraced the challenge of building upon the festival’s successes, and hoped to make impactful progress to strengthen and move the event forward. I could not be prouder of the achievements we have all made together.
In the years since its founding in 1950, the West Virginia State Folk Festival has become a part of our town’s identity. National attention has been consistently recognized. Although the 2020 pandemic was a tragedy in many ways, I am proud to report that our hardworking Board of Directors, community volunteers, GSC student interns, and donors continued to make progress. During the past year we worked to maintain structural needs on the historic Country Store and Museum, created a new position of ‘Historian’ to our Board of Directors in an effort to organize the infrastructure of the festival, and dedicated many hours towards taking advantage of resources and funding made available from the state and the West Virginia Humanities Council.
Since its inception, Dr. Patrick Gainer saw value in student and community collaboration, and we continue to help rejuvenate and preserve West Virginia histories, experiences, and oral traditions based upon his theories. One example of new growth is introducing our Appalachian Studies Degree Program that will be launched in the fall of 2021 at GSC.
I am confident that the festival is in good shape. We have increased our monies, support, and membership. We have a strong Board of Directors. Though it is a difficult decision, I feel it is best for my family, students, and myself to step down from the WVSFF Presidency at the conclusion of this year’s festival. I want to make this process a smooth and successful one, so I am offering to assist as much as possible.”
Among Darby’s proudest achievements has been the growth of the festival’s Youth Camp for ages 4-17, which she has managed and run with assistance from Luke McKnight, Nick Blake, Rick Falls, and Alice Holmes. It is held concurrent with the festival at Pioneer Stage, located just off the GSC campus. There burgeoning pickers not only get to have hands-on experiences with bluegrass instruments, they receive instruction from skilled players and teachers.
The kids had the opportunity to hear bluegrass music being played by area grassers, before trying out a little picking themselves.
You can see what may be the beginning of a life-long interest in bluegrass and old time music in the faces of the students who attended this year, courtesy of some photos that Megan has shared with us. Perhaps some them will return some day to study with Miss Megan at Glenville State!