Freeman to receive Lunsford Award

Special to the Tribune

Mars Hill – A highlight of the annual Bascom Lamar Lunsford “Minstrel of Appalachia” Festival is the presentation of its namesake award. The 2019 recipient of the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award is clogger Loretta Freeman.
Freeman comes from a long line of dancers and traditional musicians. Her father, Gordon Freeman; uncle, Arvil Freeman of Weaverville; and brother, Terry Freeman, all were prior recipients of the Lunsford Award, and Loretta says she’s honored to join them with this recognition. She’s helping make sure those family traditions continue. Her daughters Lynsey and Lauren also clog, and son Dexter plays the guitar. Both Loretta and Lynsey have been recognized by America’s Clogging Hall of Fame as All-American Cloggers.

Freeman’s roots are deep in Appalachian culture, and she says she thrives on keeping the community informed about our music and dance heritage. She serves as chair of the Folk Heritage Committee, a group of strictly volunteers who’ve kept the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival going for 92 years and Shindig on the Green for its 43-year run.

Loretta is known for developing her own style of Appalachian dance that combines buck dancing, flatfoot, and traditional clogging. She’s danced with Mars Hill University’s Bailey Mountain Cloggers and the Southern Mountain Fire Cloggers, among other teams.

The Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award has been given out since 1980 to individuals who have made significant contributions to the folk, musical, and/or dance traditions of the Southern Appalachian mountain region. In addition to the three Freemans, past winners are a “who’s who” of folk music and dance legends. They include Brian Hunter (2018), Jeff Atkins (2017), Carol Rifkin (2016), Joe Penland (2005), the Bailey Mountain Cloggers (1998), Sheila Kay Adams (1997), and Betty Smith (1982).

The award will be presented at 11 am on Saturday, October 5, on the main stage of the festival, which takes place on the Mars Hill University campus.
The Bascom Lamar Lunsford “Minstrel of Appalachia” Festival brings together some of the region’s finest musicians and dancers for a day of performances, workshops, and impromptu jams. Festival hours are 10 am – 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 5, 2019. It’s the same day as the Madison Heritage Arts Festival, which runs from 10 am – 4 pm in downtown Mars Hill. Admission to the festivals is free, although there is a charge for some of the Lunsford Festival music workshops.

For updates and information, visit the festival website at or contact festival director Leila Weinstein at (828) 689-1115 or

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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