Big Possum String Band playing for Augusta Monthly Square Dance on Friday

ELKINS – The award-winning Big Possum String Band kicks off its winter tour with live old-time music for the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College monthly square dance.

Set for Friday, Feb. 8 in the Creative Commons in Myles Center for the Arts, the evening will also feature calling by Sean Fen.  

Big Possum String Band is made up of award-winning musicians Tessa Dillon on fiddle, Henry Barnes on fiddle, Evan Collins on guitar and Seth Swingle on clawhammer banjo.

As a band, Big Possum won first place in the 2018 string band contest at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia. While firmly rooted in old-time music, the band’s repertoire ranges from both driving traditional fiddle tunes, to early bluegrass and country numbers. 

The dance starts at 8 p.m., with a beginning workshop at 7:45 p.m. All dances are beginner and family friendly. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and AmeriCorps members, and free to Davis & Elkins students, faculty and staff.

Participants don’t have to come with a dance partner and listeners are welcome. Those planning to dance should bring a pair of shoes to change into to protect the floor.  

“It’s a joy to see a Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble alumna Tessa Dillon take the lead on fiddle and share her talent with the Elkins Community,” said Augusta Events Coordinator Becky Hill. “The Big Possum String Band is a vibrant, young old-time band that both represents and respects West Virginia music while pushing these traditions into the future.”

The dance will be hosted by the student string and dance group Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble. Members also will sell baked goods to raise money to purchase team jackets and other equipment.

Elkins is part of the Mountain Dance Trail, a heritage tourism project of Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College. The project preserves and promotes local community square dances from the Virginia line to the Ohio border.

The Mountain Dance Trail hosts a square dance almost every weekend somewhere in West Virginia. The next Augusta Heritage Center Dance is scheduled for March 15 with Andy FitzGibbon and friends playing music and T-Claw calling square dance in collaboration with a cultural diplomacy program, Mosaic.

The 2019 Mountain Dance Trail schedule is available online at For more information or a brochure, call the Augusta Heritage Center at 304-636-1209.

Programs offered by the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College are presented with financial support from Davis & Elkins College; the WV Department of Arts, Culture, and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the WV Commission on the Arts; and the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Local support is provided by the Randolph County Commission.

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