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The Walnut Valley Festival

Updated on September 21, 2015

Goin' to Winfield

Officially it's called the Walnut Valley Festival, but more often you'll just hear it called "Winfield" or "Bluegrass."

It's been held every September since 1972, starting on a Wednesday and lasting through Sunday. It's always scheduled to include the 3rd Saturday in September.

Graphic courtesy Walnut Valley Festival.

The festival is famously as much about the community of festival-goers...

What is the Walnut Valley Festival?

Well, you could call it any number of things and you still wouldn't quite capture what Winfield is.

It's a folk music festival, a bluegrass festival, an acoustic music festival, the National Flatpicking Championship, as well as national and international championships for several other instruments, workshops, a craft fair, the "Land Rush" for camping sites, and the best midway food around.

The festival attracts 10,000-15,000 people each year to the county fairgrounds in this small college town in southeast Kansas.

But, of course, the essence of Winfield IS the music. It's not just bluegrass, but you'll find old-time bluegrass AND progressive bluegrass. And it's not just folk music. In any given year, you'll find cowboy music, Celtic music, old-time country music and music that defies being slotted into any conventional category.

Photo by heytoto.

Walnut Valley Festival 2012 (YouTube) - A nice overview of the Winfield experience

John McCutcheon (YouTube) - 2008 Walnut Valley Festival

John McCutcheon on Amazon

Newcomers to Winfield are always amazed at the caliber of performer that Winfield attracts--John McCutcheon, for instance. Really--John McCutcheon in Winfield, Kansas?! And he comes back year after year, an important part of the Winfield family.

How to get to Winfield, Kansas - ... and the Walnut Valley Festival

A markerThe fairgrounds are located just one mile west of downtown Winfield on U.S. Highway 160. -
Fairgrounds, 1105 W 9th Ave Winfield, KS
get directions

1992 Walnut Valley Festival (Photo Gallery) - photos by heytoto

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Main Stage at the 21st WVF in 1992.Relaxing at Stage 3 at 1992 WVF.Impromptu performance on the midway at 1992 WVF.Early morning festival goers looking for coffee and breakfast at 1992 WVF.RV camping in the West Campground at 1992 WVF.  (You'll find tent camping in the Pecan Grove Campground.)Soaking up sun and music at Stage 3 (one of six stages) during 1992 WVF.Tom Chapin backstage at Stage 3 after a set during 1992 WVF.An enthusiastic fan surprises Tom Chapin at the 1992 WVF.
The Main Stage at the 21st WVF in 1992.
The Main Stage at the 21st WVF in 1992.
Relaxing at Stage 3 at 1992 WVF.
Relaxing at Stage 3 at 1992 WVF.
Impromptu performance on the midway at 1992 WVF.
Impromptu performance on the midway at 1992 WVF.
Early morning festival goers looking for coffee and breakfast at 1992 WVF.
Early morning festival goers looking for coffee and breakfast at 1992 WVF.
RV camping in the West Campground at 1992 WVF.  (You'll find tent camping in the Pecan Grove Campground.)
RV camping in the West Campground at 1992 WVF. (You'll find tent camping in the Pecan Grove Campground.)
Soaking up sun and music at Stage 3 (one of six stages) during 1992 WVF.
Soaking up sun and music at Stage 3 (one of six stages) during 1992 WVF.
Tom Chapin backstage at Stage 3 after a set during 1992 WVF.
Tom Chapin backstage at Stage 3 after a set during 1992 WVF.
An enthusiastic fan surprises Tom Chapin at the 1992 WVF.
An enthusiastic fan surprises Tom Chapin at the 1992 WVF.

Tom Chapin and John McCutcheon on YouTube

Tom Chapin on Amazon

Tom Chapin's another great example of a performer that you wouldn't expect at a smaller venue like Winfield. And he returns, year after year, performing with John McCutcheon and doing his own shows--a big part of the Winfield community.

What's the weather like in Winfield, Kansas?

According to wunderground.com, the typical temperature range for September 18-22 in Winfield, Kansas, is 69 degrees - 89 degrees.

73% of the time in the last 17 years, it has been sunny during that time period, with rain about 25% of the time.

Hmmm--so maybe sunny, maybe rainy?

Veteran Winfielder's know to bring clothes for sunny AND rainy. Just from my own experience, it sure seemed like it rained a lot more than 25%! Throw in a rain slicker and mud boots--you'll be glad you did!

Ever Been to the Walnut Valley Festival?

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Comments about the Walnut Valley Festival

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    • heytoto profile image
      Author

      Karen Kolavalli 3 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @lollyj lm: Oh, yes, the music IS phenomenal! I recently moved out of the area, so it looks like I won't be able to go the the festival, this year at least. Thanks for stopping by!

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 3 years ago from Washington KS

      I would love this festival but have never been there. The music sounds phenomenal.

    • profile image

      grannysage 4 years ago

      I lived in Kansas for many years but never managed to make it there. Sounds like a lot of fun.

    • heytoto profile image
      Author

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @Scott A McCray: I'll have to check those out if I ever make it down South! Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Scott A McCray 4 years ago

      But I have been to Galax and Mineral before...

    • heytoto profile image
      Author

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @Margaret Schindel: It's going to be here before we know it! Can't wait to go this year! I recently came across some of my WVF crew t-shirts from the 80's--they still fit. LOL.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing.

    • heytoto profile image
      Author

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @anonymous: The craft fair every year is always amazing! We always make sure to browse and end up buying way too much!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have family in Winfield so I've been several times. The last was as a craft fair vendor. We took enough people to work the booth that we could slip out and see the shows we wanted to see. It was a lot more fun that a regular craft fair.

    • heytoto profile image
      Author

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @Virginia Allain: Yes, please do! I came across some more recently, too. Need to add them to the page.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @heytoto: I know I have some Winfield pictures hiding in my computer somewhere. If I find them, I'll send them to you.

    • heytoto profile image
      Author

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @Green-horizon: Oh, I think I've been to about 10. I lived out of the country for a number of years, so couldn't go consistently during that time.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I love local festivals and this looks like a great one!

    • Green-horizon profile image

      Green-horizon 4 years ago

      How many times do you have visited this festival ?

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      Sounds like lots of fun!

    • heytoto profile image
      Author

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @Virginia Allain: Yes, Carol had told me to be ready with the camera, but I didn't realize she actually meant to attack him! Both Tom Chapin and John McCutcheon will be there this year. Also The Grascals--saw them up at Hesston at the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains "Prairie Window Concert Series" earlier this year (won two free tickets from our local public radio station, KMUW Wichita).

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I've had some superb times at Winfield listening to all the music. Makes you want to clone yourself so you can be at all the stages simultaneously and not miss any of the performers. Yep, it can be hot, windy, wet, cold, so be prepared.

      Is that our Aunt Carol hugging Tom Chapin?

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Nicely presented page, with lots of variety.

    • heytoto profile image
      Author

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @lewisgirl: Oh, you definitely should! You owe it to yourself. ;-)

    • lewisgirl profile image

      lewisgirl 4 years ago

      My family has a ranch east of Wichita, I need to check this festival out!