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FestivALL's 10th anniversary brings new events, big-name acts

Bob Wojcieszak
Festivall director Larry Groce, along with assistant director Brittany Javins, presents the entertainment lineup at this year's edition of the annual summer arts festival.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The city of Charleston will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its annual FestivALL celebration with several new events, as well as more big-name acts including Aaron Neville, the Drive-By Truckers, The New York City Ballet and more.

FestivALL director Larry Groce announced the lineup for this year's event, which runs June 20-29, at a press conference Monday morning at Appalachian Power Park.

The baseball park will host the inaugural FestivALT on Saturday, June 21. The event will be an alternative rock and alt-country concert aimed at younger listeners.

The Drive-By Truckers will headline the event, but Groce said three or four other bands, to be announced later, also would perform.

The Mayor's Concert on Thursday, June 26, will feature Grammy-winning artist Aaron Neville. Neville last played for FestivALL in 2006 with the Neville Brothers.

The annual Blues, Brews and BBQ and Wine and All that Jazz events will be held at the University of Charleston on June 27 and June 28, respectively. The former will feature Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, The Nighthawks and Samantha Fish.

Red Baraat, a jazz/Indian fusion group, will headline this year's Wine and All That Jazz alongside the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

"I think we have the best line-up ever for headliners," Groce said after the press conference.

Last year's FestivALL brought 60,000 people into the city, Groce said. Although that was partially helped by West Virginia's sesquicentennial celebrations, he said he still expects about 50,000 people at this year's events.

The event was much smaller when it began, hosting just a handfull of events stretched over three days.

"Many people were waiting for something like this," he said. "FestivALL developed much more quickly than I ever thought it would."

"By 10 years, we're much farther along than I thought we'd be."

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones helped jump start the event in 2005. He said the event has become an important part of the city.

"It'll grow long after I'm gone. I'm grateful it's part of the legacy of this administration," he said.

Tickets for many of this year's events go on sale Wednesday, March 26, at the Clay Center and Power Park.

In an effort to keep things affordable, Groce said all tickets for the Mayor's Concert will be $39. FestivALL also is offering a $100 ticket package that includes the Mayor's Concert, FestivALT, Wine and All that Jazz and Blues, Brews and BBQ.

FestivALL's Dance Gala will feature guest dancers from the New York City Ballet alongside local performers from The Charleston Ballet and the River City Youth Ballet Ensemble.

Peter Marshall, a West Virginia native known for his longtime role as host of the "Hollywood Squares" game show, will host "West Virginia Squares." The event is sponsored by the West Virginia Musical Hall of Fame.

On Sunday, June 29, West Virginia Public Radio's "Mountain Stage" will host the retro soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

The Charleston Light Opera Guild will present the musical "Catch Me if You Can," a stage adaptation of the 2002 Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio move,

FestivALL favorites like Taste of ALL, the Smoke on the Water Chili Cook Off, the West Side Main Street Wiener Dog Races and Ice Cream Social and the Art Parade also will return.

When asked what part of FestivALL he's most excited about, Jones replied without hesitation.

"The belly dancers ... and Aaron Neville."


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