The first annual Appalachian Foothills Festival

Amanda Page — founding director of Scioto Literary — to hold first annual Appalachian Foothills Festival at Shawnee State University


Aubrey Boland, Assistant Editor

The first Appalachian Foothills Festival will be held over March 25 and March 26 on Shawnee State University’s campus.

The festival is a celebration of literary art in the tri-state region of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

The festival was created and organized by Amanda Page. Page is the Founding Director of Scioto Literary, a non-profit organization that supports writers and storytellers in Scioto and surrounding counties. Page, among many other things, is also an editor at The Columbus Anthology and a 2022 Leadership Ohio Fellow.

Kari Gunter-Seymore, Poet Laureate of Ohio

Kari Gunter-Seymore, Appalachian poet and current Poet Laureate of Ohio, will be the keynote speaker of the festival. Seymore was named “Poet of the Year” in 2020. Seymore will speak about the importance of Appalachian art and literature as well as read a few of her own poems. Seymore will also be available to sign books following the event.

The highlight of the festival will be the world premiere of the long-awaited documentary “Peerless City.” The screening will be from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. “Peerless City” was co-directed by Amanda Page and David Bernabo.

The documentary began filming in Summer 2021 and highlights the history of Portsmouth, OH through its various city slogans. Portsmouth has been marked by three distinct slogans beginning with “Peerless City” moving to “Where Southern Hospitality Begins” and the current use of “Comeback City.” You’ll likely recognize many of the faces in the documentary as they talk about rise (and fall) of the city of Portsmouth.

Those who are unable to attend the premier will be able to watch “Peerless City” at no cost once it is released on PDF.

When asked what she was most looking forward to about the festival, Page stated, “I’m really excited to have John Miller here… I’m excited for him to see Portsmouth.” Miller is the co-director of the documentary Moundsville, the inspiration behind Peerless City. Page is also eagerly awaiting the poetry write-off that will be held on Saturday. She says the poetry write-off is “central to what we [Scioto Literary and the Appalachian Foothills Festival] are doing.” Page is excited to see poets working together and against each other competing for the title of “peerless poet.”

The Festival has brought on three judges for the poetry write-off: Barbara Costas-Biggs, an Appalachian poet and librarian living in Southern Ohio; Kendra Winchester from Read Appalachia; and Josh Lawson, Scioto County commissioner candidate and author of The Face of Addiction. 

Page is proud of the festival and is “thrilled with what we put together.” Page also says that the festival, “is just the beginning.” She is looking forward to hosting the Appalachian Foothills Festival for many years to come and she is eager to watch it grow

All events will be free. “It’s important to make events free the first time around,” said Page, “it’s important that the cost is not a barrier to anyone who wants to participate.”

See the Appalachian Foothills Festival full schedule of events below.

Friday, March 25

3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Moundsville Screening + Q & A in Flohr Lecture Hall w/Directors John W. Miller & David Bernabo
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – Keynote in Flohr Lecture Hall w/ Poet
Laureate of Ohio Kari Gunter-Seymour + Book Signing 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Open Mic at Patties & Pints w/Host
Amanda Rena Lewis


Saturday, March 26
Noon to 1 p.m. – Where I’m From Poetry Workshop at
Portsmouth Public Library w/Amanda Page 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Poetry Write-Off at Southern Ohio
Museum w/Host Erin Rice (registration required) 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – Premiere of Peerless City at Vern
Riffe Center for the Arts (free tickets available at box office or through this link )