PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ARDY WUNDER
On September 17, 2016, Willow Grove Farm in Winchester, Va. will host the first Valley Fusion Festival. With a focus on bringing in both nationally recognized and locally touring artists, the festival strives to highlight the talent of the musicians and visual artists in the Shenandoah Valley, with the goal of creating a new space for artists to demonstrate their work in an accessible location.
Jam, funk, and bluegrass are just a few of the genres of music that Valley Fusion will be showcasing at the festival. In addition to a lineup of incredibly talented musicians and bands, Valley Fusion will be curating a live visual artist gallery filled with artists of all mediums from around the area. There will be several performing arts troupes for attendees to experience as well, including improv theater groups, flow artists, and more. Attendees will have the unique opportunity to witness live art creation on-site at the festival, as well as chances to get involved in the art-making itself through the festival’s workshop component.
Ardy Wunder and Zack Thayer, the co-founders of Valley Fusion, graduated from Shenandoah University and have backgrounds in event marketing, arts management, and development work. “We started Valley Fusion Festival because we saw a real need for it in Winchester,” explained Thayer, Valley Fusion’s Artistic & Development Director.
“There are so many amazing artists and musicians in the area that are struggling, and we wanted to create a new space for them to present their work and collaborate with other artists.”
As the festival is largely a community-driven event, Valley Fusion will be partnering with a variety of organizations and businesses from around the Shenandoah Valley region. In addition to working with local venues for art such as the Bright Box Theater, Blue Fox Billiards, and the Shenandoah Arts Council, Valley Fusion has partnered with other arts-focused businesses in the area, including Appalachian Jamwich and the Winchester Art Market.
To help promote the festival, Bright Box Theater will be hosting a show on June 10. The show will feature two well-known high-energy bluegrass acts, as well as two local visual artists who will be painting live at the event.
Attendees are encouraged to wear their dancing shoes.