Weekend Recap: Ninth annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival

Saturday, 25 musical acts took the stage at Ritter Park Amphitheater for the ninth annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival, exhibiting regional talent and uniting the community.

HMAF creator Ian Thornton said he never imagined the festival becoming so big.

“When we first started, we weren’t sure what we were going to get,” Thornton said. “I never planned on it growing this big, the tickets started out as ten dollars and a one day event. The fact that it has made it this far I’m pretty happy about.”

The festival had 12 events and parties within seven days celebrating and showcasing all mediums of art and genres music to the public.

Bands ranging from alternative rock like Rozwell Kid, to local indie-rock band Ona, played at the amphitheater. Thornton said he wants to keep it regional and focus on the local talent within the area while keeping a wide-range of diverse music.

“I wanted to show the community there’s a wealth of talent here, it doesn’t have to be brought in from out of town,” Thornton said. “We try to keep it eclectic and everybody here is from West Virginia, Kentucky, or Ohio. We work well together and are one big happy family.”

Huntington native Heath Holley, who helped arrange HMAF and performed Saturday, said the festival has helped bring opportunities for his band and graphic design.

“The festival puts us in front of a large audience that haven’t heard us,” Holley said. “HMAF holds sacred to some people that don’t come out to shows all the time. HMAF is a good representation of Huntington, people of all ages are happy here and shows there’s a ton to offer in music and art.”

Holley said he happened upon HMAF while he was in middle school at the park, and he has been coming every year since.

“I started coming when I was in middle school, I was walking through the park and thought it sounded cool and had 20 dollars in my pocket and stayed all night, and have came ever since,” Holley said. “I’m really happy this now being my second year involved with the festival and a little unreal thinking about it.”

Thornton said he hopes the event causes people to realize the talent hidden within their community.

“I want people to walk away with a belief in their community, because every famous band started out as a local band somewhere, along with the artisans, filmmakers and comedians,” Thornton said.

Lillie Bodie can be contacted at [email protected].