Houstonfest was created in memory of Houston Caldwell, who passed away on April 30, 2010. He was only 18 years old, but his musical legacy, passion for the continued growth of southwestern Virginia’s musical heritage, and his spirit of community service lives on through this festival. Proceeds from HoustonFest go to the Galax Volunteer Fire Department with discretionary contribution to be made to local youth music education programs. Houston was featured on many Virginia Folklife stages and recordings over the years, beginning when he was 11 years old.
Workshops: State Folklorist and director of Virginia Humanities’ Folklife Program Jon Lohman leads workshops about the musical tradition of the region with participating performers in both bluegrass and old time music.
Houston Caldwell Music Scholarships: As part of HoustonFest, each year scholarships are awarded to deserving youth and grants are given to nonprofit traditional music programs in the region. During the first three years of the festival, HoustonFest awarded twenty-five scholarships and seven grants.
Regional Luthiers: A special area of the festival is dedicated to the instrument makers of southwestern Virginia.
Multiple Stages: The festival is dedicated to showcasing the best of bluegrass, old time, and youth music. More than thirty regional and international artists participate.
Camp Houston: A unique part of the festival is the Camp Houston state which focuses on youth music and activities. An instrument petting zoo allows novice players to try different traditional instruments with the assistance of friendly professionals.