The Appalachian Festival is one of Cincinnati’s most popular annual festivals, drawing approximately 15,000 people over the three-day event each Mother’s Day weekend. An additional 1,500 school children take part in “Education Day” on the first day of the festival, which is held at Coney Island on the shores of the Ohio River, conveniently located along the I-275 beltway.
Developed by the Cincinnati Junior League nearly 50 years ago, the festival is now produced and managed by the Appalachian Community Development Council (ACDA), a non-profit organization promoting awareness of and appreciation for Appalachian culture. Proceeds from the festival go toward grants to organizations involved in Appalachian life.
What has become one of Cincinnati’s most popular annual festivals — The Appalachian Festival– began 46 years ago in the basement of Cincinnati’s Music Hall as a quaint crafts’ exhibition developed by the Cincinnati Junior League.
Today, the Appalachian Festival draws nearly 30,000 people over the three-day event to Coney Island on the shores of the Ohio River.
The goal was to create an event in Cincinnati that would raise awareness of the Appalachian culture, and to have the event ultimately managed by the Appalachian community itself. And, indeed, the Junior League would help establish the Appalachian Community Development Council (ACDA), the organization that took over management of the event in 1975.
The first Junior League Appalachian crafts’ exhibition in 1971 was a success — for months prior to the event organizers had searched the mountain hollows of Appalachia to track down authentic artists and crafters.
As the event grew in popularity, so too did the need for more space to accommodate visitors. From the basement of Music Hall the event would move over the next two decades to a more spacious Music Hall ballroom, then to the Cincinnati Gardens, the Greater Cincinnati Convention Center and, in the mid-80s, to its present site at Coney Island.
Today, the Appalachian Festival is bigger and better than ever… with more than 130 crafters, dozens of entertainers on two stages, cultural and educational programs.
The Appalachian Festival is sponsored by the Appalachian Community Development Association, a nonprofit organization promoting awareness of and appreciation for Appalachian culture. Proceeds go toward grants to organizations involved in Appalachian life.