“It’s the perfect size festival. Any bigger and you’d lose something.”Andrew Bird, on Nelsonville Music Festival
Two weeks from now, the 15th annual Nelsonville Music Festival (NMF) will take place at Robbins Crossing on the campus of Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio with four full days of music featuring many bands on multiple stages all weekend long with camping, kids’ activities, artisan vendors, food, beer garden, and much more.
“NMF started in 2005 as a one-day festival on the Public Square right outside of Stuart’s Opera House. And for the first three years it stayed as a one-day event with 5 or 6 bands and between 750-1,200 attendees,” said Brian Koscho, Marketing Director for Stuart’s Opera House.
Although Brian did not join the team at Stuart’s until 2007 (with his first day of work bring the 3rd NMF), he has worked alongside Stuart’s Executive Director Tim Peacock to grow the festival into what it has become today.
“The idea behind the Nelsonville Music Festival was for it to be a fundraiser for Stuart’s Opera House – (and it still is!) and bring the work we do out into the community even more and have a bigger event to draw people into the area and have them learn about Stuart’s and what we do here,” said Brian. “It moved to a spot along the Hocking River behind Rocky Boots in 2006 and 2007, and then became a weekend long, three day festival in its 4th year in 2008. 2008 featured about 25 bands or so (including The Avett Brothers headlining) along with on-site camping, a huge kids area, and a lot of the things that those who attend our festival today would be familiar with.”
Every spring, excitement builds across the region and across the state for NMF. So what makes NMF stand out as Ohio’s Best Music Festival?
By coming to NMF you are supporting the arts in Southeast Ohio and some amazing work that is being done.
“The music is central to what we do at NMF, and the experience of the attendee coming in is right there with it. We are always keeping those things in mind when planning the festival and thinking about how it all looks, we try to keep the person coming always at the forefront,” said Brian. “So I think good music from lots of amazing artists of all genres and geography helps make it stand out. But ultimately, I think what sets us apart is that this is a festival put on by Stuart’s Opera House, by a non-profit organization that is right here in our community and doing good work. Your support of coming to NMF, buying a ticket, buying beer, buying food, camping, and everything else is also supporting something SO MUCH larger than just coming to the festival for four days.”
All the proceeds raised at the Nelsonville Music Festival go right back to Stuart’s Opera House and their Arts Education Program, which works with over 6,500 K-12 students a year through our Afterschool Music Program (AMP) who play at NMF every year, the Drama Club at Nelsonville-York High School, Summer Arts Camps, Poetry Out Loud, Appalachian Music Week, and countless other programs and partnerships. “By coming to NMF you are supporting the arts in Southeast Ohio and some amazing work that is being done,” said Brian.
I look at NMF as a chance to show off why we choose to live here, I want people to attend and be surrounded by art and by all the wonderful things we have going on down here.
Not only does the festival support local arts and music education, but it also uplifts the growing arts scene in the Ohio Valley region. “Our local artists and community here in Nelsonville and Athens County, and the region as a whole is very important,” he said. “Every year at NMF you will see many acts from Ohio and West Virginia, many of our artisan vendors are local, we work with lots of local food vendors, breweries, businesses, and non-profit groups throughout the festival. I look at NMF as a chance to show off why we choose to live here, I want people to attend and be surrounded by art and by all the wonderful things we have going on down here. So you will see local artists all over the festival.”
The regional arts community has embraced the festival over the years. “NMF is full of so many artists, musicians, and creative people from the greater arts community in Ohio and beyond. It’s an exciting thing,” said Brian. “So many of those local artists and musicians are all over the place, too! Volunteering, working at booths and contributing to what we do here at the festival.” From the poster designed by Just A Jar to the costumed parade, the partnership with local artists is felt throughout the weekend.
This year’s festival lineup includes Death Cab for Cutie, Mavis Staples, Tyler Childers, The Breeders, The Wood Brothers, Mandolin Orange, Thee Oh Sees, Todd Snider, Allah-Las, The War and Treaty, Flor de Toloache, Bully, Darlingside, Julia Jacklin, The Coathangers, Town Mountain, Molly Burch, Michael Hurley, Mattson 2, JJUUJJUU, The Brother Brothers, Death Valley Girls, Steve Poltz, Laura Gibson, Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, Orkesta Mendoza, The Huntress & Holder of Hands, Campdogzz, The National Reserve, NOTS, Sun June, Skyway Man, Hubby Jenkins, Early James & The Latest, The Cordial Sins, Ernie Johnson From Detroit, The Other Years, Mourning [A] BLKstar, Water Witches, WYD, The Katy, Radattack, Streetlamps for Spotlights, The T-Mart Rounders, and Weedghost, and many more.
Each stage has its own feel and setting, I always encourage everyone coming to NMF for the first or the 15th time to soak the whole thing up.
“I am very excited for The Breeders on Friday night, they have been one of my favorite bands since I was 12, so I am really excited to see them right here at the festival. I always love all of the great acts playing in the afternoons and late mornings on all the stages too, and those different stage settings with the Main Stage, Porch, Boxcar, No-Fi Cabin, and even the Gladden House Sessions too,” said Brian. “Each stage has its own feel and setting, I always encourage everyone coming to NMF for the first or the 15th time to soak the whole thing up: go see a band at every stage, go see someone you have never heard of before, go for a walk or ride down the beautiful Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, check out the campground, or the artisan vendors. There is so much to see and do!”
Weekend passes for all four days are on sale now for $175 (with no fees), and the price will go up as we get closer to the festival weekend. Weekend passes for Nelsonville residents and teens are only $85, and kids 12 and under are free. Camping passes and VIP weekend passes to the festival are also on sale now. Tickets and more information can be found nelsonvillefest.org or by calling (740) 753-1924.