The Vandalia Award, West Virginia's highest folklife honor, will be presented to folklorist, filmmaker, author and musician Gerald Milnes of Elkins, Randolph County, this Friday at the 37th Annual Vandalia Gathering.
Milnes will receive the award during a 7 p.m. ceremony and concert in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater in the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex.
He will perform during the concert.
A native of Pennsylvania, Milnes has made his home in Webster and Randolph counties since 1975. He has spent the past 35 years researching, documenting, writing about, and teaching West Virginia traditional arts and music. Topics have included farming and foraging, architecture, storytelling, folklore, weaving and fabric art, dance and song.
Milnes, who served as Folk Art Coordinator for the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, recently retired after 25 years. During that time, he amassed more than 2,000 hours of film, video, and audio recordings, documenting the talents and folk practices of native West Virginians.
In documenting Appalachian culture, Milnes has produced 20 audio recordings of West Virginia traditional music on the Augusta Heritage label, including two recordings chosen by the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, for their "Selected List" of American Folk Music Recordings.
A new and timely release is Folk Music & Lore of the Civil War, a collection of field recordings that makes it possible to hear songs, tunes and stories of that conflict as they likely would have sounded 150 years ago.Milnes has published several books, including Play of a Fiddle: Traditional Music, Dance, and Folklore in West Virginia.