The Walnut Valley Festival (referred to simply as “Winfield” by long time festival-goers) is an annual acoustic festival held in Winfield, KS the third weekend in September. The festival takes place over a five day period and is a great, family-friendly event.
This year is the 48th annual Walnut Valley Festival. While it is known as a “bluegrass” festival, it has evolved into much more over the years. “It now is a blend of all kinds of acoustic music: bluegrass, folk, Americana, old-time country, a little bit cowboy, Celtic, blues, jazz, swing and more. And the bluegrass is both traditional and progressive.”
For many, the festival isn’t just about the music. It’s so much more. It is a place to collaborate with other musicians, a place to reunite with friends and family, and even a place to get married! (There have been many weddings at the festival over the years.)
Many festival goers bring their own instruments too and play into the wee hours of the night in the campgrounds. There is even a makeshift stage in the campgrounds that is lovingly called “the 5th stage”.
At the Winfield music festival, there is family-friendly entertainment on four stages simultaneously throughout the day. The sounds of banjos, hammer dulcimers, mandolins, fiddles and more fills the air throughout the festival grounds. There are also 10 different contests that occur at the festival including: National Flat Pick Championships and the International Finger Style Championships, the International Autoharp, National Mandolin, National Mountain Dulcimer, National Hammered Dulcimer, National Bluegrass Banjo, and the Walnut Valley Old Time Fiddle Championships. These contests are a big part of the Walnut Valley Festival. Not only do they attract competitors from all 50 states, but international ones as well.
Arts and Crafts, Food, and More
Besides the wide variety of music, there are also plenty of delicious food vendors to nourish you. There are also more than 100 booths of “drawings, paintings, jewelry, woodcrafts, glass, metalwork, baskets, pottery, weaving/spinning, leather, herbals & soaps, childrens’ items, and much more. Artists, crafters, and luthiers (makers of stringed instruments) come to Walnut Valley from over 20 states” to sell their wares.
My family has attended the festival many times over the years. In fact, my parents’ honeymoon was at the festival! As children, my brothers helped make ropes and my sister and I proudly wore garlands of ribbons and flowers on our heads. We also made ribbon wands. My parents have purchased handmade belt buckles, earrings, camp chairs and more over the years.
This year’s Walnut Valley Festival will take place Wednesday, September 18 through Sunday, September 22. For those who are camping, check out the information on the Land Rush and how to navigate the camping process. Some festival goers line up weeks in advance to get their favorite camping spot.
The Walnut Valley Festival encourages families to come and it shows in their children’s ticket prices. Children ages 5 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. Children ages 6 – 11 are $5 each. These are the daily ticket prices. For a full list of ticket prices, visit the Walnut Valley Festival website.
Tickets purchased in advance are discounted by as much as $10 each. That’s a significant discount!
What to Bring
The Walnut Valley Festival is a relaxing, fun atmosphere. There is so much to see and do. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs, blankets, sunscreen, bug spray, hats and any other creature comforts that you might need for a day of outdoor fun. Only one of the stages is a grandstand with bench seats. The other stages are on grassy areas that require you to bring your own seating. For more information on what is and is not allowed at the festival, visit the WVF Festival Rules web page.