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Background Image group of musicians playing bluegrass music

Kansas 1972: Returning to Roots Music

In the Fall of 1972, around 10,000 people descended on the Winfield, Kansas fairgrounds to enjoy a long weekend of camping, crafts, and bluegrass music. Fifty years later, the Walnut Valley Festival and National Flat-Picking Championships is still going strong. Learn about the origins of the festival, why the early 1970s was the right moment for the creation of this kind of event, the camp culture that has made the festival so unique, and the larger community created around Bluegrass.


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Poster for the Walnut Valley Festival




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Archival Audio Sources

Primary Sources

  • The Wichita Beacon, October 1, 1972, “Winfield Swings to Bluegrass Sounds.”

  • The Wichita Eagle, September 17, 1972, “Bluegrass, Guitar Picking Festival on Walnut River”

Secondary Sources


  • Bart Redford, Walnut Valley Festival Executive Director

  • Seth Bate, Author of “Winfield’s Walnut Valley Festival”

  • Robert Gardner, Professor of Sociology at Linfield College and author of “The Portable Community: Place and Displacement in Bluegrass Festival Life”

  • Interviews with Walnut Valley festivalgoers in the campgrounds, Sept. 9-10, 2021




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