Carl Sandburg Music Festival

Music Festival 2022
Audience enjoys the Carl Sandburg Music Festival 2022.

Photo by Patrick Sullivan

The Carl Sandburg Music Festival is held annually.

2024 Music Festival will be Saturday June 8th from 10 - 3

Sandburg Music Festival Offers Mountain and Blues Music and Square Dancing

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site celebrates the annual Sandburg Music Festival on Saturday, June 8, 2024, from 10am to 3pm. This free festival, supported by the Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, offers live music at the amphitheater and barnyard. The festival highlights the Pulitzer Prize winning poet’s other legacies as music collector and children’s author and the family’s love of square dancing.

Visitors may bring lawn chairs, food, and non-alcoholic drinks. Light snacks and water will be sold by non-profit partner, America’s National Parks, in the Park Store/Visitor Center in the Sandburg Home. Due to expected large crowds, pets will not be allowed at performances. In case of severe weather, the event will be canceled. Check the park’s Facebook page and website for updates.


10a.m: Jennifer Armstrong kicks off festivities with storytelling for kids of all ages, to honor Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, which were tales written for his daughters. Jennifer has spent her life writing, singing, and making music with fiddle, bagpipe, banjo, and words. She was a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival and has been heard on NPR.

12p.m: Laura Boosinger celebrates the music of Appalachia through old-time banjo, guitar, Appalachian dulcimer, and fingerstyle Autoharp. Laura attended Warren Wilson College in the 1970’s, where she learned clawhammer banjo, called Southern Mountain Square dances, and attended Shaped Note Singing School with North Carolina Folk Heritage Award winner Quay Smathers. Laura is a Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina consultant and the voice of their podcast, “Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails.” In 2017, Laura was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.

2p.m: Mac Arnold plays the Blues with Austin Brashier and Max Hightower. At age 24, Arnold joined the Muddy Waters Band, shaping the electric Blues sound of the 1960’s and 70’s. Mac has shared stages with Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Big Mama Thornton. In 2012, Mac was nominated for the Blues Foundation’s Traditional Blues Male Artist Award and also received a Blues Blast Music Award Nomination for “Traditional Blues Recording of the Year,” with Plate Full O’Blues. In 2014, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from USC Columbia. In 2017, Mac was inducted into the Alabama Blues Hall of Fame. In 2023, he received the South Carolina Entertainment and Music Hall of Fame Award.

Austin Brashier is a guitar slinger and vocalist. He grew up listening to Blues, and eventually took his band on the road. He has had the privilege to open for Blues players such as B.B. King, Koko Taylor, Tinsley Ellis, Derek Trucks, and Nappy Brown.

Max Hightower started his music career at age 12 when he bought his first Blues cassette tape, “Muddy Mississippi Live by Muddy Waters.” He plays keyboard, guitar, bass, and sings. Harmonica is his instrument of choice. Max is a founding member of Plate Full O’Blues and has shared stages with Hubert Sumlin, Willie Smith, and Leon Everette.

Barn Garage

10:45am to 12pm: Walter Puckett calls Mountain Circle Square Dances. A festival first, to celebrate the Sandburgs’ love of square dancing! Come dance! When he was just nine years old, Walter called his first dance at a PTA event with his third-grade class. Walt has traveled with the Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers and the Stoney Mountain Cloggers, winning many awards. Walt also had the ultimate privilege to dance at the Grand Ole Opry. 2024 marks his 80th birthday!


12pm to 2pm: Henderson County natives Steve and Jean Smith play mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer. They perform regularly at Carl Sandburg Home. They have taught dulcimer at festivals and workshops nationwide. In 1984, Steve won the National Hammered Dulcimer Championships at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. He returned to win the 1985 National Mountain Dulcimer Championships at Winfield, only the second person to win both Championships.

Parking, Shuttles, and Accessibility
Parking is limited. Please carpool or take a ride share or taxi. Three parking lots will have shuttle service. Approximate shuttle times will be posted in all parking lots with shuttle service. Visitors with mobility concerns are strongly urged to take a shuttle.

  1. Wheelchair-Accessible Shuttle: The park’s main parking lot has the only wheelchair-accessible shuttle. This lot is located on Little River Road, across from Flat Rock Playhouse.

  1. Passenger-Only Shuttle: Flat Rock Playhouse (enter via Little River Road).

  1. Passenger-Only Shuttle: Flat Rock Village Hall, 110 Village Center Drive.

Parking lot without a shuttle: The hikers’ lot (located ½ mile drive from the main lot). Park and then walk .4 to .7 mile through the park to festivities.

Free Sandburg Home Tours

As part of Music Fest, free Sandburg Home tours will be offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets are first come, first serve in the Visitor Center/Park Store (on the Sandburg Home ground floor) beginning at 9:30 a.m. (To reserve tickets on non-festival days visit

Music Festival is supported by:

Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc.
America's National Parks, the non-profit partner that operates the park store


The music festival began in 1987, to celebrate Carl Sandburg's efforts to document the history of American music in his American Songbag. Carl Sandburg published the American Songbag in 1927 after spending years documenting and researching early American songs. As Sandburg said, “The American Songbag is a ragbag of strips, stripes, and streaks of color from nearly all ends of the earth. The melodies and verses presented here are from diverse regions, from varied human characters and communities, and each is sung differently in different places.” His publication does not focus on one genre of music, but rather on the human experience. “It is an All-American affair, marshalling the genius of thousands of original singing Americans.”

Sandburg enjoyed all American musical genres. He spent years interviewing musicians and singers, documenting their songs, including folk, gospel, jazz and blues. Carl Sandburg said, “the American Songbag comes from the hearts and voices of thousands of men and women.”

Compiling and publishing the American Songbag was one of the most difficult writing projects Sandburg took on during his life. Today, the Carl Sandburg Music Festival celebrates his work and the work of modern singers and songwriters to share diverse and original American music.

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    Last updated: May 16, 2024

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    81 Carl Sandburg Lane
    Flat Rock, NC 28731


    828 693-4178

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