Huntington Music and Arts Festival features Marshall student

A young Marshall University first-year student carried on her family legacy Saturday in the Ritter Park Amphitheater during the Huntington Music and Arts Festival, formerly headlined by country music star Tyler Childers.

Ally Fletcher, new to Marshall University, performed an acoustic set along with nearly 30 other acts at the HMAF, which she described as “out of this world.” 

“Although I’m young, I’ve been (playing music) for a long time, and to have the opportunity to play HMAF feels like I’ve made it to the big leagues in a way,” Fletcher said. 

In its tenth year, the festival was headlined by the band Ona, who continue their cross-country touring schedule after the show in Huntington. Ona began their set once the 24 other artists finished playing for the large crowd.

“Playing the same festival as Tyler Childers and Ona was amazing,” Fletcher said. “I love them and feel inspired by them, and it feels incredible to take the same stage as your local heroes.” 

Fletcher said she has been playing music nearly her entire life due to her mom, Angie Fletcher, being in the Angie Fletcher band, along with Fletcher’s musical father, who played in Billy Ray Cyrus’ band. 

As a West Virginia native, Fletcher plans on continuing to play during HMAF as long as she can because she said she loves Huntington and likes what the festival brings to the city. 

In a world where concert tickets to popular musicians can run upwards of $200, the festival’s admission is only $20 and children under 12 get free admission. The festival continues to add events and increases the length of the festivities each year. It is an event for all ages, not just people in the music business.

The festival has grown each of the last ten years in fan attendance and artist participation and has not shown signs of losing momentum. 

HMAF gives artists like Fletcher an opportunity to showcase their talent to a wide variety of people, which could eventually lead to them being signed or noticed by talent scouts.  

Fletcher hopes that her performance can jumpstart her hopeful professional career as a musician. 

“So many great musicians started out as ‘babies’ playing here and I would be honored to follow that same road, although I realize that I have to continue to work hard to get there. This is only the beginning,” Fletcher said. 

The young musician can often be seen at the V-Club in Huntington where she attends shows of other musicians and has performed herself. 

Fletcher hopes to build her following and improve on what she did at HMAF, possibly even getting a band together instead of just being a solo musician. She is in the works of recording an album and likes to think she is “floating on wherever the wind takes (her).” Fletcher said she hopes to leave an impact on wherever she may perform. 

Michael Morgan can be contacted at [email protected].