Plenty of entertainment on tap for Pioneer Festival

Photo provided.
Alicia Pyle

Ten entertainers, including some new faces and some returning favorites, will occupy the stage at the Huntington County Fairgrounds when the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival returns on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22 and 23.

Festival-goers can expect music, dance and magic throughout festival hours Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Rust Belt Drifters and the Alicia Pyle Trio, both locally-based groups, are performing at the festival for the first time this year.

Rust Belt Drifters members Jason Grossman, guitar and lead vocals; Jessica Grossman, bass and vocals; and Gracie Mae Grossman, fiddle, will bring their bluegrass sound to the stage on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and again on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Alicia Pyle, who now makes Fort Wayne her home, leads a trio that blurs the lines of genres including classical, jazz, pop/rock, funk and world music. The group is set to perform Sunday at 11 a.m.

Also new this year is magician Jim Barron, who will visit the festival stage twice — at 1:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. In addition to his work as a full-time professional entertainer, Barron is also a morning radio personality on the WBCL radio network.

The Roanoke Rounders, a perennial local favorite, will perform bluegrass and old-time music Sunday at noon. Musicians Paul Kioebge, Kent Roe, Jeff Stiltner, Denver Marrow, Denny Alles and Matt Rupley wield a variety of instruments including guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro and upright bass.

Lizzie E. Hoff and her Cough previously performed at the Pioneer Festival as members of the group Clusterfolk. The new Indiana-based trio is made up of Sarah Ellsworth-Hoffman, James Ellsworth and Andrew Scheidler and brings a neo-folk and alternative folk sound. They’ll perform Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

JennyLane, consisting of Jennifer and Lane Laffoon, is also a festival staple. They use their many talents to share America’s rich cultural and musical diversity. The couple, who have been playing together for well over 30 years, will open the stage both Saturday and Sunday, performing at 10 a.m. both days.

The Carrie Johnson and Taylor Hampton Acoustic Duo, based in Lexington, KY, specializes in Americana, covering established artists as well as performing original music. The duo will entertain on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Sunny Taylor and Ivory West, both solo performers, also return to the festival’s entertainment lineup.

Taylor, a folk rock artist from Fort Wayne, will perform Saturday at 11 a.m.

West, of Warsaw, brings her acoustic easy listening and folk pop sound to the festival stage on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Frequent festival-goers will remember the Applejack Cloggers, and the dance group will return again this year, performing on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. They perform a style of dance that began in the Appalachian Mountains and incorporates folk dances from the many nationalities who settled there, more recently reflecting street dancing and hip-hop.

In addition to the on-stage performers, the festival also features several performers scattered throughout the grounds, including strolling musicians Mark and Liza Woolever, dulcimer player Darlene Hackett, the Towpath Players and local musician Stephanie Shultz.

All entertainment is free with paid admission.

The 43rd annual Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival is sponsored by Phi Chapter of Psi Iota Xi and Friends of the Festival.