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Local musicians unite Huntington residents during Music and Arts Festival

Corey+Hatton+of+the+band+Of+the+Dell+preformed+for+the+second+time+at+the+Huntington+Music+and+Arts+Festival+Saturday.
Corey Hatton of the band Of the Dell preformed for the second time at the Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday.

Corey Hatton of the band Of the Dell preformed for the second time at the Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday.

Sadie Helmick

Sadie Helmick

Corey Hatton of the band Of the Dell preformed for the second time at the Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday.

Sadie Helmick, Life Editor

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Sadie Helmick
Corey Hatton of the band Of the Dell preformed for the second time at the Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday.

Through rain or shine, Huntingtonians stay united during Saturday’s 8th annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival. From 12-10 p.m., bands from all over the tri-state rocked out at the Ritter Park Amphitheater stage.

Every year HMAF brings a great crowd and every year festival-goers leave with the same feeling, a feeling of unity and pride in their city.

Eric Wilson, who described himself as “that guy from the ‘Price is Right’ who announces for Bob Barker before he comes out,” celebrated his third year announcing at HMAF.

“Huntington Music and Arts Fest has always built more upon itself and created a monument out of the day, once per year,” Wilson said. “It is available for people of all ages and will continue to do so for years to come, hopefully. If you missed this one, please join us next year.”

Throughout the day, 12 acoustic performers and 13 bands lined the stage one after another. Corey Hatton, lead singer and guitar player in the Huntington-based band Of the Dell, said HMAF is not just another show.

“This is the best music scene in the world,” Hatton said. “This isn’t just like another concert. I have played a lot of concerts, but each time you come here, especially if you are from here and you work really hard for this type of stuff, it’s a different place to be.”

Hatton, along with his band, has played at HMAF for the past two years, but have been coming to the festival for the past four years.

Andy Nickles of South Point, Ohio has been staffing the festival for the past seven of eight festival years. He continues to come back to HMAF because he said it shows the good of Huntington.

“Huntington has its downfalls, it has its problems, more so than a lot of other places, but days like today, everyone comes together,” Nickles said. Today is just the good of Huntington. Nobody has to worry about (their) problems.”

Joni Deutsch, host of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “A Change of Tune” and the HMAF emcee, described the festival as a “big community.”

“To see regional talent come together and also to see a big amount of people come to support it is really encouraging for a West Virginian.”

Deutsch said he wants to see this type of passion in festivals grow within the state.

“I wish all music scenes in West Virginia were like this, as supportive, as inclusive and as passionate to come out in kind of the pouring rain to watch local acts. I would love to see this happen in Charleston, Parkersburg and Morgantown more. This should be a model for what West Virginia music scene is like.”

Tyler Childers closed the night as the day’s headliner. Childers’ debuting album “Purgatory” was co-produced by Grammy award winning and fellow Kentuckian, Sturgill Simpson. With the flames of lighters filling the air and lyrics of “Lady May” echoing through the amphitheater, Huntington Music and Arts Festival ended with an anticipation for next September.

Sadie Helmick can be contacted at [email protected]

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