A rare jewel in Virginia automotive history highlights the Thunder in the Blue Ridge “car culture” area at the 41st Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, set for Saturday, Oct. 25 on the campus of Ferrum College.
The festival’s auto show will feature Slick Patterson’s modified 1939 Ford, the oldest known Virginia-built “custom car,” as well as hundreds of hot rods, race cars and restored antique vehicles.
Patterson began work on his dream car in 1948 after seeing the post-World War II customizing craze in California. His radically modified ’39 Ford won honors and appeared in eight automobile magazines in the 1950s.
By 1960, however, the vehicle had been sold and forgotten, and it sat rusting outdoors for 50 years, until a complete restoration by Roanoke-area auto-building masters in 2013. Then the car won the Preservation Award at the 2014 Detroit Autorama.
“Slick Patterson’s Ford broke new ground in Virginia,” said Blue Ridge Folklife Festival Co-Director Roddy Moore. “As our folklife festival shows, traditions are always changing, sometimes slowly and sometimes in a jump. For an instant, Patterson’s Ford was like nothing else cruising up and down the streets of Virginia.”
The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival celebrates an array of folk traditions found in Western and Piedmont Virginia, and the festival’s Thunder in the Blue Ridge show — combined with acres and hours of heritage music, crafts, foodways, games, antique machinery and working animal activities — makes for a full, unforgettable family day of regional folkways. Highlights at this year’s festival include:
•Two special music workshops — -On the Road with Bill Monroe (featuring former Blue Grass Boys trading tales and tunes of traveling with the Father of Bluegrass) and Old-Time Harp Players (masters of the harmonica from Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina).
•Three music stages — 21 solid hours of string band, bluegrass, gospel, blues and ballad singing.
•Slingshot masters — Hotshot target shooters from Virginia and North Carolina, plus plenty of slingshots for the public to try.
•Amazing Grace, the movie star trick mule — She acts, she paints, she high jumps, and she can dunk a basketball — just like a mule.
•Wheat threshing and rock crushing demos — The raw power and beauty of dozens of restored vintage tractors, engines and farm/industrial machinery.
•Thunder in the Blue Ridge car show — 300 vintage cars, customs, street rods, racecars and hot rods.
•Working animal contests and demos — Sheep herding, coon dog water races and treeing contests, and horse and mule weight pulling contests.
•Virginia Championship Coon Mule Jumping Contest — Mule jumping as only mules can.
•Real Blue Ridge folk crafts — From guitar making to tobacco twisting, sales and demonstrations by over 50 heritage artisans from the region.
•Country foods — From Brunswick stew to fried apple pies, over 20 traditional Virginia foods
•Children’s folk games — Old-time play, no battery needed.
•Moonshine still and tales — The cats and the mice together on stage trading stories from the heyday of Blue Ridge “spirits.”
Held rain or shine, the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival is a true one-of-a-kind event and a full day of family entertainment. Priced with the family in mind, admission is $10 for adults; $5 for youth (6-15); and $5 for seniors (60 and over). Advance tickets can be purchased by check or credit card at 540-365-4412. Parking is free.
For more information visit www.blueridgefolklifefestival.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 540-365-4412.