Friday, September 11, 2009

Good Stokes Stomp Coverage

From the Winston Salem Journal.

By Lisa O'Donnell


Published: September 11, 2009

DANBURY - A few things have changed in the 35 years since some arts-minded folks in Stokes County decided to organize a festival along the banks of the Dan River.

The crowds have swelled, and the festival's name has shrunk, for example.

But for the most part, the Stokes Stomp has remained a community celebration with an emphasis on homegrown music.

And in a county as musically rich as Stokes, that means some fine picking.

The Stomp, as it's called locally, will be Saturday and Sunday at Moratock Park, off N.C. 8 in Danbury.

"It's a celebration of arts and community, and that's what we're best at," said Eddy McGee, the executive director of the Stokes County Arts Council, which puts together the festival.

Worth Hampton was among the founders of the first festival. Hampton had recently moved to Stokes County from Winston-Salem and saw the need for an arts council that would provide programs for schoolchildren and sponsor other activities throughout the county.

He and others decided to have a festival that would provide the seed money for an arts council. The first festival was called the Star Spangled Stokes Stomp. Over the years, the name of the festival was shortened.

A local trucking company brought in a flat-bed trailer that was used as a stage; some carpenters built wooden steps to the stage; and a Winston-Salem awning company donated a pink-and-white striped awning.

About 500 people came to the festival, which raised $1,400 for the newly formed arts council.

"We were just ecstatic to be able to make that kind of money," Hampton said.

In the last few years, the festival has grown, thanks in part to more advertising on country-music and old-time radio stations in Mount Airy and Galax, Va. About 15,000 people attended the festival last year, McGee said.

This year's activities include a guided trip down the Dan River, a rubber-duck race on the river and a parade.

For music lovers, one of the highlights will be the all-star jam featuring some of the county's best musicians at 5 p.m. on Sunday, McGee said.

As with past festivals, there will also be barbecue, bluegrass and marching bands from the local high schools.

"It is light years beyond what we had imagined," Hampton said.

"It's quite something to be proud of."

■ Lisa O'Donnell can be reached at 727-7420 or at

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