Patty Looman: There Goes Treble in Fairmont, WV!

Festivals, fairs, food, rides, tons of stuff to do this summer! It’s too bad it’s kind of all the same. Except for PATTYFEST 2014!    PattyFest is full of jammin, workshops, dancing, and an open stage. Cool thing about PattyFest? Acoustic only. Traditional West Virginian cuisine (with vegetarian options) is served. From the above description, you might not understand how this event got its name.

Patty isn’t an instrument, a food or a dance. Patty was born in Mannington Feb. 7, 1925.  She attended Fairmont State, then Central Michigan University, then taught for the next 35 years. Eventually, and thankfully, she moved back to West Virginia. She found that she loved the dulcimer, both hammered and Appalachian. She taught classes, performed at weddings and festivals, and won multiple awards for her dedication and talent. So right now, she probably sounds like a great musician. But she’s more than that.  She is responsible for the perpetuation of old-time folk music in the entire state and beyond. Sure, there were others who played and played well, including The Dulcimer Man, Russell Fluharty  and Worley Gardner. But, Patty, she was different. She was the busiest dulcimer teacher in the state, working with 40 students a week from all over West Virginia to Maryland, and anywhere else there was a pupil willing to learn. All of it for free, too! She passed away June 5, 2012, the year of the 11th PattyFest.  From the very first one in 2002, Patty always helped to organize what she simply called “The Fest.” I know what you’re thinking. And no, she didn’t name The Fest after herself. It wasn’t even her idea. It was begun by her students who appreciated all she had done to give Appalachian music back to this region. And they weren’t the only ones (just the only ones to throw a festival). In 2004, Patty was given the B. B. Maurer West Virginia Folklife Scholar Award, which honors those who have contributed to the preservation and perpetuation of Appalachian heritage.  In 2007, she received the Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor. Patty has been described as energetic, patient, tireless, giving and humble.

So come out and celebrate this amazing lady Saturday June 7, 2014! PattyFest 2014 will be at East Fairmont High for the first time in its history. Opens at 9 a.m. Picture it: fiddles, mandolin, banjo, guitar, hammered dulcimer, gospel singing, bodhran, spoons, mountain dulcimer, whistle and autoharp. Workshops and performances! PattyFest should get its own award for the preservation and perpetuation of West Virginia’s food heritage. Ramps, ammonia cookies, pepperoni rolls, sarsparilla and sassafras teas, fried green tomatoes, soup beans and cornbread! Best. Fest. Ever. To learn more about Patty, take a look at Mountains of Music: West Virginia Traditional Music from Goldenseal, or read her obituary. Visit WV Culture, Dulcimer Player News, or her Facebook memorial page for more information. Website:

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