Saluda readies for 12th annual Saluda Arts Festival

Published 11:38 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Explore and discover exceptional talent at the 12th annual Saluda Arts Festival exhibiting a record number of artists showing a variety of art mediums. The festival is May 16 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. along Main Street in Historic Downtown Saluda.

This year’s artists and craftspeople will delight visitors and art lovers with fine art and crafts representing a diversity of media including paintings, pottery, woodworking, sculpting, pottery, fiber, jewelry, metal, and much more. There is plenty of public parking and public restrooms. A special highlight is the Children’s Art Tent where youth can explore and create their own works of art. Festivalgoers will see demonstrations of several of the artists at work painting, blacksmithing, and jewelry making. The forecast is for beautiful May weather with a chance of a few spring showers. This is a rain or shine event.

This year’s festival will be dedicated to the memory of Dr. Kenneth M Dennis (Dr. Mike) who generously supported children’s causes and performing artists. He was a constant figure in Saluda and made an impact on the arts and music scene in Saluda. He introduced Saluda to new musical talents and performing arts and was a positive inspiration to everyone he met, young and old.

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In addition to the artists, the festival is pleased to announce its headliners performing on the Ella Grace Mintz Stage in Top of the Grade Park of McCreery Park, Saluda.

Hummingtree Band, 12p.m.-1:30p.m.
A remarkably popular mixture of classic songs across multiple genres including Americana, rock, bluegrass, and folk, laced with original compositions and a truly engaging stage presence. Dave Miles (upright bass, guitar), Earl Turner (guitar, harmonica) and Randy Wykoff  (mandolin, octave mandolin, and harmonica) came together as the Hummingtree band in the 1980s. The three singer/songwriters came from diverse musical backgrounds, but were able to meld their styles and create a unique sound and musical experience that pleased audiences in legendary roadhouses, such as Jackson’s Station in Hodges, S.C., as well as regional festivals, such as Belle Chere in Asheville, along with an array of bars, restaurants, conventions, and, yes, even pigeon shoots across the Southeast.

Now performing regularly, the Hummingtree Band has found popularity with a range of new audiences. Their unique blend of humor and musicality is entertaining, thought-provoking and sheer fun.

Sound Investment, 2-4 p.m.
This a favorite band for those who like to dance to classic rock and beach music. From Sound Investment you will hear the sounds of the Beach Boys, Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, The Four Tops, Young Rascals, Temptations, Righteous Brothers, Kinks, Supremes, Johnny Rivers, Doobie Brothers, Atlanta Rhythm Section and many more. With Rodney Gibson on keyboard and guitar, Rick Gunderson, lead guitar, Kevin Filson on bass, and Michael Leyshon playing drums, you will be on your feet!

Hog Town Squealers, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Brevard’s Hogtown Squealers have delighted audiences and dancers for more than 20 years. Currently the band consists of Tom Anderson (fiddle, vocals), Susan Brown (fiddle), Matt Gardner (bass), John von Stein (accordion, vocals), Keith Ward (guitar), and Gary Wells (banjolyn, vocals).
The Hog Town Squealers will be wandering around festival area.

Their music is old time in its foundation, but they explore the edges of old time traditions and incorporate other genres—a honky-tonk, ragtime, and “obscure musical miscellany.” In their eclectic approach to old time music, they share much of their musical attitude with the early incarnations of the Red Clay Ramblers and the Double Decker String Band. Drawing primarily from their own creative inclinations, though, and from the early greats of recorded Southern string band music, they cite as influences Uncle Dave Macon, Gid Tanner, and North Carolinian Charlie Poole. In the same set as a rollicking version of Uncle Dave’s “Old Plank Road” and the Carter Family’s “Dixie Darling,” might be a Squealerized version of “Thunder Road,” the Robert-Mitchum-penned theme song from the movie of the same name about moonshine bootleggers.

Saluda Grade String Band
A favorite performance at the Saluda Arts Festival each year is the Saluda Grade String Band formerly known as the Foothills Old Time String Band.  This four-piece string ensemble gathers at different areas along the festival site to play the old time tunes, popular in the Southern Appalachians before the days of radio. They will be on site at 11:30 a.m.

Deb and Irv Camacho
A late headliner, Deb and Irv Camacho, are from Saluda and will be performing Americana, folk, and a little country on the porch of Cathy Jackson Realty from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. Deb and Irv entertain frequently at the Green River Brew and Saluda Grade in Saluda.

Dancer’s Extension Spring Concert
The Spring Concert is planned for 11a.m. at Saluda Elementary School’s auditorium on the day of the festival. Fifty students will perform in the genres of ballet, jazz and contemporary dance. Admission is free. Parking is behind Saluda School in the bus parking area.

Children’s Art Tent
Children will experiment and unlock their creativity at the Children’s Art Tent with supervised instruction, face painting, and surprises. Located at the shelter in McCreery Park.

Balloon Artists and Stilt Walkers
For the enjoyment of the children and amazement of all, talented balloon artist, Stephanie Miles, will create art out of balloons, and Stilt Walker Ananda, Heather Springsteen, will tower over even the tallest person.

njoy a variety of delicious choices from local restaurants at festival site.

Parking is available along Main Street, at the Saluda School back parking lot, the Saluda Presbyterian Church on Carolina St., Saluda Methodist Church on Greenville St, the West Main Public Parking Lot, and the Saluda Fire Department on Greenville St. Shuttle transportation will be available. See the map for locations.

Parking for the Spring Concert is behind the school on Seminary Street. Parking in front of the school on Main Street or along the roadsides on Main Street will be prohibited and cars may be towed from that area.

Music for the Saluda Arts Festival is funded by the Polk County Community Foundation’s Saluda Fund Grant. This grant is a major reason why the Saluda Arts Festival can bring high-caliber, talented musicians to the festival each year.

The Saluda Arts Festival received a $500 grant through the Tryon Fine Arts Center which serves as the N.C. Arts Council’s partner in awarding sub grants to local organizations for arts programs in Polk County. For more information about the N.C. Arts Council’s Grassroots Arts Program, please contact Executive Director, Beth Child, at 828-869-8322, ext. 211 or

The Saluda Arts Festival is sponsored by the Saluda Business Association with the CORE members spearheading and organizing the festival each year. CORE is an acronym for C-Creative, O-Organized, R-Responsible, and E-Energetic and Enthusiastic.

Saluda’s historic Main Street, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is home to the steepest mainline railroad grade in the country, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Festival is our tribute to the heritage of Saluda and the celebration of its long-standing art community.

For more information about the Saluda Arts Festival, please visit and click on the Saluda Arts Festival link or contact, or Susie Welsh at 828-749-3900.

– Submitted by Cathy Jackson