2017 Flip Flop Festival

The Flip Flop Festival joins the towns of Harpers Ferry and Bolivar in celebrating their role as an Appalachian Trail Community. Flip Flop Kick Off at Point 2015 At the third annual launch of this two-day event, festival goers can look forward to live entertainment, vendors from the surrounding communities, fun and educational activities for children (and adults!), a special Saturday evening speaker, a Flip Flop Thru-Hiker breakfast and send-off, and much more. 

All activities are free unless otherwise noted.


(9:00 am - 9:00 pm)

Flip Flop Festival Raffle
Join us in a raffle for a chance to win a free Rafting Trip for Two from River & Trail Outfitters, an ENO Hammock, and much more! Raffle tickets are free (1 per person) and will be available during the festival at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitor Center and the Welcome Booth in the vendor area.

The raffle drawing will be held at 3:00 pm at the main stage on the Odd Fellows Lawn.

Odd Fellows Lodge LawnMusicians for FFF page
10:00 - 11:30 The Hokums
12:00 - 1:30 Lisa & Friends
1:45 - 3:15 Bob Keel
3:30 - 5:00 Craggy Island 
In the event of rain, musicians will be relocated three blocks west to The Guide Shack at (1102 Washington St.) Festival Organizers will announce any change of venue for musicians to leave plenty of time to arrive for all acts.

Odd Fellows Lodge Lawn, Fillmore Street 
9:00 - 5:00
Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (Long-distance hiking on the A.T. and trails worldwide)
Appalachian Trail Conservancy (Enjoyment and preservation of the Appalachian Trail)Hawk with raptor lady at Flip Flop Festival
Appalachian Trail Museum (Telling the stories of the Appalachian Trail since its creation)
Audubon Society Potomac Valley Chapter (Conservation and nature programs)
Gray Fox Farm (Jellies, jams, and native American items such as earrings, bags, moccasins)
Guide Shack (selling snacks, drinks, and handmade crafts)
Shenandoah University (Hiker survey on effects of long-distance hiking)
Hosteling International (Inspiring and diverse locations in different cultures)
Mishkin Photography (Photographs that tell stories of places and the people that love them)
Outfitter at Harpers Ferry (Hiking and outdoor equipment, foot care and shoe-fitting)Cornhole
Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (Hiking and trail maintenance in VA, WV, MD, and PA)
River Riders (Rafting guides, tubing, zip-lining) 
Rolling Pepperoni (Packaged Sweet and Savory West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls)
Shepherd's Spring (Maryland retreat; water bottles, cooling scarves, other mdse.) 
Sly Ultralight Outdoor Gear
The Towns Inn (Inn, cafe, and shoppe in historic Harpers Ferry; hiker supplies and snacks) 
Trego Mountain Nature Center (Live birds of prey)
Two Rivers Tread  (Running Store selling shoes, socks, etc.)
Wood Eye Wood (Handcrafted wood products)

Festival Food VendorsCooking burgers on Grill

Bisou Bistro (Sandwiches & Soups)
Kona Ice Truck (Shaved ice and other sweets)
Odd Fellows Lodge (Hamburgers and Hot Dogs)
A Step in Time Bake Shop (Baked Goods) 

Games and Kids' Activities
Mather Lawn (across from Odd Fellows Lodge)

Pack the Pack (featuring "The 10 Essentials)Dick on bike on C&O by Elf
Guess the Weight  
Name that State
Disc Golf
Corn Hole Toss

Recreation & History Workshops
​Curtis Freewill Baptist Church, upper floor

Outdoor Afro group shot in front of ATC(10:00 - 10:50) Storer College: A Legacy of Civil Rights on the Heels of Slavery (Guinevere Roper, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park)
(11 - 11:50) Introduction to Birding (Deb Hale, Potomac Valley Audubon Society)
(12:00 - 12:50) Introduction to Long Distance Biking  (Chris Craig, Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Trail & Town Alliance)
(1:00 - 1:50) Thru-Cycling the C&O and Great Allegheny Passage Trails (Doug Riegner, Allegheny Trail Alliance)
(2:00 - 2:50) Leave No Trace Activities (Ryan Seltzer, Appalachian Trail Conservancy)
(3:00 - 3:50)  Following the Path of the Underground Railroad (Brittany Leavitt, Outdoor Afro)
(4:00 - 4:50) Rock Climbing (Chris ​Price, Guide Shack Café) 

Hiking & Backpacking Workshops
Curtis Freewill Baptist Church, lower floor
10:20 - 11:20  Hiking for Beginners (Max "Bearbag" Mishkin)Shakedown for Flip Flop Festival
11:30 - 12:20  Long-distance Hiking on the A.T. (Jim "Sisu" Fetig)
2:00 - 2:50      Health & Safety (Heather "Brave" Sloan)
3:00 - 3:50      Trail Etiquette and Trail Magic (moderated by Jordan Bowman, ATC; with Lauralee "Blissful" Bliss)
4:00 - 4:50      Flip Flopper Panel (James "Mayhem" Smyle, Ryan Seltzer, and Joe "Cool Breeze Fennelly; moderated by Laurie Potteiger, ATC)

Pack Shakedowns
 9:00 a.m. - 12:00, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Curtis Freewill Baptist Church lawn
(rain location: ATC Conference Room, access from parking lot)
Learn from expert hikers what you do and don't need in your pack for a safe and enjoyable backpacking trip while practicing Leave No Trace. Bring your own fully-loaded backpack and get recommendations on how you can lighten your load, or watch as others go through a "shakedown"!

Safely Storing Food in the Backcountry
Appalachian Trail Conservancy side yard, rain or shine
11:00 am - 12:00pm, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Different methods for keeping food and "smellables" safe from bears (and mice) in the backcountry will be demonstrated, including the "PCT Method" bear-bag hang and tips for using a "bear canister."

Evening Entertainment

An Unlikely Thru-Hiker:
Derick "Mr. Fabulous" Lugo 
(7:00 pm)Derick
Light Horse Inn Barn, 1084 W. Washington St., Bolivar 

Derick Lugo is a hiker, writer and blogger. Since completing his thru-hike in 2012 he has spoken at several venues about his passion for hiking the Appalachian Trail. He is currently on final edits of his book entitled ‘An Unlikely Thru-Hiker,' a humorous account of his unusual and life changing AT thru-hike. Derick resides in New York City, but his heart lives where the AT takes him. You can find Derick, his works and his future projects at Facebook @An Appalachian Journey / Instagram @dericklugo / Twitter @Derick_Lugo”
Donations requested.

Derick recently ​starred in the myATstory video "Trail Brothers." Check it out below! For behind-the-scenes features, click here.

(7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Pancake Breakfast (7:00 a.m. to 9:00 am)
Camp Hill-Wesley United Methodist ChurchFlip-flopper with pancakes
654 Washington St, Harpers Ferry

Donations accepted.

Flip Flopper Send Off (9:00 a.m.)
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
799 Washington St., Harpers Ferry

Festival Food Vendor (10:00 - 2:00)
Odd Fellows Lodge
(*NEW addition to schedule*)
Odd Fellows Lodge (Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, snacks, and drinks)

Workshops (11:00 - 3:00)
Curtis Freewill Baptist Church upstairs
(11:00 - 11:50) A.T. 14 State Challenge: Set a goal to explore a mix of iconic and breathtaking locations in each of the Trail’s 14 states - no pack required (Appalachian Trail Conservancy)
(12:00 - 12:50) Hiking for Beginners (Max "Bearbag" Mishkin)
(1:00  - 1:50) Rock Climbing (Chris ​Price)
(2:00 - 2:50) Introduction to Long Distance Biking  (Chris Craig)

Pack Shakedowns 
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Curtis Freewill Baptist Church lawn
(rain location: ATC Conference Room, access from parking lot)
Learn from expert hikers what you do and don't need in your pack for a safe and enjoyable backpacking trip while practicing Leave No Trace. Bring your own fully-loaded backpack and get recommendations on how you can lighten your load, or watch as others go through a "shakedown"!

Safely Storing Food in the Backcountry 
Appalachian Trail Conservancy side yard
11:00 am - 12:00pm
Different methods for keeping food and "smellables" safe from bears (and mice) in the backcountry will be demonstrated, including the "PCT Method" bear-bag hang and tips for using a "bear canister." 

Guided African American History Hike (1:00 - 2:30)Leading hike to John Brown fort
Begins at Appalachian Trail Conservancy
799 Washington Street, Harpers Ferry, WV
A Harpers Ferry National Historical Park ranger will lead a one-mile hike along the grounds of Storer College, ​one of the nation’s first institutions of higher learning open to all Americans. The hike will also follow the Appalachian Trail past Jefferson Rock, Civil War ruins, and John Brown's Fort.  ​Participants will also learn about the Niagara Movement, considered to be the cornerstone of the modern civil rights era. The route includes numerous steep steps. The hike ends at the scenic location known as The Point in the lower town historic district. Registration is strongly encouraged; send email with AAHH Registration in the subject line to [email protected]. Arrive early to allow time for parking and to sign in. 
(Hike will proceed in light rain; if thunder or lightning, talk will be given in the Curtis Freewill Baptist Church Sanctuary).

ASL interpreters available.

* End of Schedule *

RSVP On Our Facebook Event Page

While an RSVP is not required, ​sharing this event will help us anticipate crowd size and spread the word about the festival.

What is a "Flip Flop Thru-Hike?"
A flip flop thru-hike is a new movement that helps spread out use on the Appalachian Trail, allowing more long-distance hikers to have an uncrowded experience. As thru-hiking the 2,190-mile trail end-to-end becomes ever more popular, more hikers are seeking alternative itineraries to the conventional Georgia-to-Maine approach. Do these thru-hikers walk in flip-flops? No! They hike a portion of the Trail, and then "flip" to another location and sometimes change direction. This allows hikers to avoid not only crowded conditions, but extremes in weather while offering a longer window of time to complete the hike. Starting in Harpers Ferry (the psychological midpoint of the Appalachian Trail) also offers an incredibly scenic and historic setting to start the epic journey. Flip flop crew gathered round the map

The Flip Flop Festival helps to raise awareness of this sustainable way of hiking the Appalachian Trail by offering free educational programs and fun activities that highlight Harpers Ferry as an exceptional destination for outdoor recreation, whether for a day-trip, a weekend, or a the start of a 2,000-mile journey.

Additional Special Offerings in Harpers Ferry April 22-23
A Day in the Park. Kids of all ages can participate in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Junior Ranger activities. (April 22)

The Enemy Among Us: Defending Harpers Ferry During the War of 1812. Living history 1812 military recruitment station offered by Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Harper House, 1-4pm (April 22-23)

Historic Town Selfie Scavenger Hunt 
Connect history of the past with technology of today by figuring out the clues and finding the items. Then document with a "selfie" showing you and the list to win free food and cash prizes! Visit the Odd Fellows table in the vendor area on Saturday after 9:00 am to get started!

Junior Ranger Activity
Throughout the weekend, kids can pick up Appalachian National Scenic Trail junior ranger activity booklets at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and earn a badge.

More Info About Harpers Ferry
Learn about all the history, recreation, attractions, and amenities that Harpers Ferry has to offer by visiting www.historicharpersferry.org and the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park websites.

Harpers Ferry Map. The main event venue is adjacent to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Parking directions: Drive to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 799 Washington Street, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425. Volunteers or signs will ​direct you to free parking.

Free parking is also available for the weekend (entrance fees are waived as part of National Park week) at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, 171 Shoreline Drive, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425. A shuttle bus runs frequently between the large lot at Cavalier Heights park visitor center and lower town historic Harpers Ferry, half a mile downhill from the main festival venue.

Paid street parking will not be enforced on Washington Street (Zone 1 and 2)--the main thoroughfare of Harpers Ferry--during the Festival on April 22-23.

Thank you to the generous sponsors and supporters of the Festival:

Town of Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
- Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Trail & Town Alliance
Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Virginia Lodge No. 1
- Sarah Shaffer and Dan Jimeno
Jefferson County
Todd Coyle
River & Trail Outfitters
- Rebecca Harriett
Town of Bolivar
Econo Lodge Harpers Ferry
- Clarion Inn Harpers Ferry
- Chris Craig and Ed Wheeless
- Harpers Ferry Getaways
- Bank of Charles Town
- ENO Hammocks
 - Pamela Underhill
- Betsy Bainbridge and Steve Ramberg
- Sandra Marra and Chris Brunton
- Cathy and Bruce Wilkin
- Mr. Fixer


Leave a comment
  1. Debs | Apr 20, 2017
    Yay!  Time is upon us. Can't wait for the festival and meeting some veterans of the trail. 
  2. Dan Zier | Apr 19, 2017
    any changes because of the weather forecast for the weekend?
  3. Laurie Potteiger | Apr 06, 2017
    Cool Breeze, great to hear you are attending the Flip Flop Festival this year! We will be honored to have the pioneer of the Cool Breeze thru-hike with us!

  4. Cool Breeze (Joe Fennelly) | Mar 30, 2017
    Hi, Laurie. I plan to attend the FFF this year, and as a former flipper I'd be happy to share my experiences with other attendees. See you the 22nd. best to Ron, too.
  5. lpotteiger | Mar 23, 2017
    Dan and Bob,

    Good questions!

    A "flip-flopper" is a thru-hiker who starts or ends his epic journey at a location other than one of the endpoint of the Trail.

    Here is information about getting from the Harpers Ferry KOA Campground to the festival venue: 

    The KOA is 1.7 miles west of the main Flip Flop Festival event area at 760 Fillmore Street (1 block south of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy). Most of the route is via two-lane, somewhat hilly Washington Street through the towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry. There are no designated bike lanes; traffic may be congested. The speed limit is 25 mph through town. You will also have to cross US 340 at the stoplight. While the route is not optimal for biking, it is a pleasant walk, with rolling hills and sidewalks or grassy shoulders.

    Alternatively, you can walk 1/2 mile to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park main entrance at Cavalier Heights. April 22-23 is a a fee-free weekend in the National Park System, so there would be no entrance charge those days. From there, you could take a shuttle bus (which runs every 15-20 minutes) to the lower town historic district, walk a few hundred feet north on Shenandoah Street, turn left on High Street, and walk 1/2 mile up Washington Street (it's a substantial hill!). You could also follow the white blazes of the A.T. up the steep stone steps leading up from High Street to Jefferson Rock, through Harper Cemetery, and along Fillmore Street. This route is very scenic

    A link to a map of Harpers Ferry has been added to the page above (KOA is on the far left of the map).

  6. Dan Zier | Mar 19, 2017
    How far away is the KOA and would it be safe to bike back and forth during the weekend?
  7. Bob | Mar 18, 2017
    What does it mean to flip flop on the trail?  You're not walking the trail in flip flops are you?  It would be nice to have a glossary of what it means on the web site.  Thanks, Bob
  8. wally | Mar 16, 2017

    to Flop or not to Flop, that is the question.

    To flop is human?

    Will I be labeled a flopper the rest of my life? 

  9. Laurie Potteiger | Mar 01, 2017

    Karen n Rob,

    Information about lodging options in Harpers Ferry can be found at www.historicharpersferry.com.

    The Jefferson County CVB provides also information about lodging throughout the county at www.discoveritallwv.com. A list of A.T. Community Supporters includes not only businesses in West Virginia but in nearby areas of Maryland: www.appalachiantrail.org/home/conservation/a-t-community-program/at-community-partners/bolivar-harpers-ferry-wv.

  10. Farwalker | Feb 28, 2017
    Interest in Flip Flopping peaked.
  11. Karen n Rob | Feb 20, 2017
    Attending for sure!!  Any suggestions on hotels near the festival?
  12. Barry Hudson | Feb 11, 2017
    Really looking forward to this event and starting my flip flop thru hike
  13. Hobo Hiker | Jan 03, 2017
    Looking forward to this years Flip Flop Festival!

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