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St. Vincent performs for a large crowd as the headlining act at the Main Stage at Nelsonville Music Festival on Saturday, May 30, 2015.

15th annual Nelsonville Music Festival to highlight southeast Ohio and various music genres

Visitors from all over gather for four days of drinks, laughter and good music.

Southeast Ohio holds many treasures amidst its rolling hills, and while Ohio University’s campus might be still for the summer, the region itself is thriving with good music and company at one of the best kept secrets of the U.S. music festival circuit.

The 15th annual Nelsonville Music Festival, held in Nelsonville, will feature over 60 distinct musical acts in four days on multiple stages. Headliners include Death Cab for Cutie, Mavis Staples, Tyler Childers and The Breeders. Along with jamming out to music, there is on-site camping, food and artisan vendors, a sizable children’s area and a free boxcar stage with performances open to everyone. 

All the money raised at NMF goes back into Stuart’s Opera House, the organization that produces NMF, and its arts program for children. For Brian Koscho, arts education is an important aspect of the region, so making the festival accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages is vital.

“That’s one thing that makes us stand out among other festivals besides good music and a good weekend,” Koscho, the marketing director for NMF, said. “We’re actually helping out a very good cause as well.”

The focus of the festival this year will be on the experience for attendees and the overall layout. Koscho said people can expect more art on the grounds and other activities similar to past years. 

Normally, the festival has had an attendance of up to 7,500 people throughout the four days, Koscho said, but a good chunk of people camp all weekend as well.

“Last year, we had people from 32 states and five to six countries,” Koscho said. “Folks travel from all over the place, and the advantage for the people in Athens is it’s happening right here in their backyard.”

Koscho believes having NMF in the Athens area gives the people of southeast Ohio a chance to show off what makes living in the region so great.

“I think it’s really just a chance to show what we love most about southeast Ohio and about our community in Nelsonville,” Koscho said. “Also the focus on music. We are a festival lineup with lots of different genres, so it’s music for music lovers.”

Koscho and the organizers of NMF have taken a lot into consideration to make the festival experience one to remember for young and old.

“You really get that sense at the festival that not only the music has been carefully curated, but experience of the people attending it,” Koscho said. “We want people to feel at home for four days at the festival.”

Liz Penry, a senior studying strategic communications, will be attending the festival for the first time and is excited to be helping out with artist relations at the Gladden House during the festival.

“I have heard such great things,” Penry said. “I love how important and looked forward to this festival is to the people of Athens and Nelsonville areas.”

Grace Justice, a junior studying outdoor recreation and education, is going to NMF for the camping aspect that she can’t wait to share with her friends.

“I am going to Nelsonville Music Festival because the idea of camping on festival grounds with all of your friends, enjoying good music in this community sounded like a dream to me,” Justice said. “I am expecting a weekend full of fun and good memories.”


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