History of GrahamFest
Take a beautiful Virginia Valley, the love of good music and the drive that could power the entire country and you have what is now the GrahamFest USA! Josiah Cephus Weaver has created what is well on its way to becoming one of the most revered music festivals ever!
In 2006, Josiah began to repair the front porch of the Major Grahams Mansion. He had to save those beautiful, one-of-a-kind cast iron columns. Car loads of folks stopped by to see what was going on and could they finally visit the mansion. Josiah quickly learned that lots of folks shared his vision of saving and preserving the Graham property. Since he always had a private July 4th cookout with lots of singing, he decided to have his little party at the Mansion and rebuild the fallen down Carriage House foundation for a stage. Well, he invited most everybody that stopped by and his little cook out had about 300 guests. That's when he decided he'd just have a festival and invite everybody! Share the history...share the music.....share the beauty of the valley....thus GrahamFest was born.
Josiah builds and designs just about everything.... his roads, stages, and renovations and does most of the work with his small crew of Jay Hall, Greg Jacoby, Mike Mason, Shane Mabe, and his CAT 944 loader and Hyundi excavator. They reuse tin, stone, boards, bricks, and hardware and try to keep the property as authentic as possible. Each year folks will see their progress and Josiah's vision turn to reality...a labor of love, planning, and hard work. A recipe for a good stew,as his grandma use to say.
The first GrahamFest was held in 2007 and was a huge local hit bringing artists from surrounding states like the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, 1964 The Beatles Tribute Band, April Taylor, Grasstowne, The Circuit Riders, Two Step The Dave Matthews Tribute Band, The Harris Brothers, Anderson & Strickland, Bill Kirchen, and many more! The one-day, four-stage event provided hours of entertainment for patrons of all ages. Josiah's Mountain Rock Music Show stole the show with the grand finale! It was a blast!
GrahamFest '08 grew to two-days with HAUNTED MANSION TOURS! The massive Major Graham Stage was polished and lit up like a Christmas tree! The multi-million dollar sound and light show on each stage offered artists the an outstanding performance venue to show their skill and share their talents. Featured artists were Confederate Railroad, Sharp Dressed Man The #1 ZZ Top Tribute Band, Jeff Little, Wayne Henderson and Friends, Leslie Brooks, piper Burt Mitchell, The Ft. Chiswell High School Marching Band and Color Guard, Melissa Bowman, Fire In The KitchenFrank Emerson, David Stone's Man In Black Show, The Bluegrass Museum Bus, Common Ground and many more amazing acts! GF 08 offered on-site camping, including a midnight jam on the banks of the Reed Creek and Beer and Wine Gardens! It was awesome and so much fun! Josiah and his Mountain Rock Music Show rocked the valley with flame dancers, an awesome show, and several dearly departed guest performers! Friend and banjo master Stevie Barr, pianoman Jeff Little,hot guitar burner Reggie Harris, young mandolin player Adam McPeak, and The Extraordinaires provided the musical backdrop to one ROCKIN' show! And Josiah and those Little Angels....what a special night for Lindsay, Emily, and Elizabeth. But when Josiah and "Edwina" dropped in on Confederate Railroad to perform "their version" of Trashy Women.....now that brought the house down! A great time was had by all!
The amazing part about this festival is that there really is something for everyone! There is always plenty to do and see with multiple stages running with talented artists from all over! There is even a vintage car drive in! Don't forget, you can get up close and personal with the Major Graham Mansion's ghostly inhabitants too while taking the ghost tour!