Country western superstar and multiple Grammy award winner Vince Gill serves as the headliner for the 2016 Lancaster Festival. (

Art, Music and Community: Lancaster Festival 2016

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“If I were to describe the Lancaster Festival in one word, I suppose the word that comes to mind is ‘eclectic,’” said Ken Culver, Lancaster Festival executive director, several weeks before the big arts and culture shindig, slated this year for July 20-31.

He’s certainly got a point. The fest, which measures a whopping 11 days in length, features everything from the biggest hits of the ‘60s from the Midtown Men (check out WOUB’s interview with that act right here) to a decades-old art walk tradition that closes all of the downtown in Lancaster for an evening of family friendly fun to a performance from one of the world’s most acclaimed AC/DC tribute bands, Live Wire.

The 2016 edition of the event is the first one to span 11 days in length, as the fest is usually 10 days long. The additional day was tacked on as a sort of opening celebration, featuring Humming House, a bluegrass outfit hailing from Nashville that received an especially spirited reception from festival goers last year.

Nashville-based Humming House will open up the Lancaster Festival on July 20. (
Nashville-based Humming House will open up the Lancaster Festival on July 20. (

Culver emphasized that the Lancaster Festival is meant to be geared towards families, meaning that each and every musical act and event has been designed to be appropriate for everyone from the youngest festival-goers to the oldest.

“Festival Fair Day, which will take place on Saturday, July 23, will have all types of family friendly things going on,” said Culver. “We’ll have various entertainers, funky bands, magical train rides and more, for six hours.”

Culver mentioned that more kid-friendly fun is slated throughout the festival week, with the Major Arts for Minors series taking place in Ohio University Lancaster’s Decorative Arts Center. The series will teach kids everything from how to utilize percussion instruments to how to properly pantomime.

It could be said that the true stars of the over-a-week-long event are the members of the Lancaster Festival Orchestra.

“Starting in ’88, we developed the Lancaster Festival Orchestra,” said Culver, who noted that the festival as a whole can be traced back to 1985. “These are top quality orchestra professionals who have the summer off because they have performances throughout the year, or they are teachers who are really only available in the summer. We attract top quality musicians from coast to coast, and they stay in people’s homes during the festival, and many of them have been coming back for decades, it’s like a reunion for them.”

One special Lancaster Festival Orchestra performance (which also happens to be kid-friendly) is the Magical Music of Disney Concert taking place July 28 at the Fairfield Christian Church and Academy Auditorium. Culver said that Disney fans can expect top-notch renditions of their favorite Disney tunes alongside clips and stills taken from Disney films.

Culver said that art lovers should make sure to check out a special exhibition of Granville-based painter Paul Hamilton’s works, on display at the Fairfield County Public Library, during the fest, as well. Hamilton’s “Last Act of Summer,” depicting several sunflowers, is the unifying image for all of the festival’s literature.

“We really do have all sorts of things going on throughout the festival for people of all tastes,” said Culver. “Regardless of whether you’re an adult or a child or you enjoy rock music or bluegrass music, there will be something going on that you will enjoy.”

For more information on the Lancaster Festival and a complete schedule of the many events slated for the 11-day arts celebration, visit their website.