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If a lazy day atop one of Virginia’s highest mountains listening to the region’s best music sounds appealing, then the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition is the place for you.
It’s always on the third Saturday in June.
The festival at Grayson Highlands State Park is an annual fundraiser for youth music scholarships. More than $47,000 has been awarded to aid young, local, traditional musicians in continuing their music education.
It is named in honor of luthier and guitar picker Wayne Henderson, a native of Rugby down the hill.
Henderson is an internationally known guitarist and recipient of a 1995 National Heritage Award presented by the National Endowment for the Arts.
His guitar playing has also been enjoyed at Carnegie Hall, in three national tours of "Masters of the Steel-String Guitar" and in seven nations of Europe, Asia and Africa.
Each year the festival features top-drawer acoustic musicians in the pastoral setting of Grayson Highlands.
The highlight of the day is the guitar-picking championship in which 20 contestants vie for a coveted handmade Henderson guitar.
Guitar competition begins at 10:30 a.m. The top five return to the stage at 2:40 p.m. for a playoff. Winners are announced around 5:25 p.m.
In between the contest segments and afterward, the region’s best acoustic musicians take the stage.
This year’s performers include The Gibson Brothers, Doc Watson and Charles Welch, The Water Tower Bucket Boys, Larnell Starkey and the Spiritual Seven, Dori Freeman and Wayne Henderson & Friends.
Some of the prior years' headliners have included Doc Watson, The Krüger Brothers, David Holt, Roni Stoneman and Lost and Found.
A hand-picked assortment of the best area and regional bands rounds out the show each year.
Wayne Henderson and Friends will wrap up the show. You won’t want to miss this segment, featuring Henderson’s lively and dead-on accurate fingerpicking guitar, the piano antics of Jeff Little, and various stellar musicians who join them on stage.
Seating is on a grassy hillside, so bring lawn chairs or blankets.
Food is available, or bring a picnic. Activities for the kids are available.
In any case, be prepared for all kinds of weather. Sweatshirts, down vests, tank tops and umbrellas may all come in handy. In this area warm days with summer showers give way to cool evenings.
So come on up U.S. 58 — the Crooked Road — west of Volney and climb the mountain for a fun day of fine music.
• For more information, visit www.waynehenderson.org. For camping reservations, call (800) 933-PARK. Admission is $10, and kids 12 and younger get in free with a paying adult. Park admission costs $3.