An Early Banjo Gathering

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this year’s conference has been cancelled. Please save the date  and plan to join us next year on June 25, 26, & 27, 2021. General information is below. Check back for your opportunity to register for An Early Banjo Gathering 2021 after the first of the year.

An Early Banjo Gathering

June 25, 26 & 27, 2021

Renfrew Museum and Park

1010 E. Main Street

Waynesboro, PA 17268

$100 per person / $80 for Renfrew Members

Limit 40 participants.


No charge for accompanying non-participating family members, partners and guests when registered with a paid participant. Optional $10 meal tickets available in advance.

Grab Your Banjo, The Gathering is Back!

After a six-year hiatus, the Antietam Early Banjo Gathering is back and it’s moving to Renfrew! Formerly hosted by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine at Antietam National Historic Battlefield’s Pry Barn, this premier event for enthusiasts and scholars of the 19th-century banjo music and culture is relocating to Renfrew Museum and Park, a beautiful 107-acre Pennsylvania German farmstead nestled along the east branch of Antietam Creek in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. As the new host site, Renfrew is pleased to offer participants use of the Fahnestock Barn and its scenic grounds as an inspirational backdrop for participants to learn and share together.

An Early Banjo Gathering is an annual conference which raises awareness of the early banjo’s significance in the development of American popular culture and underscores music’s importance in the lives of nineteenth century Americans. The event is a unique forum for both experts and novices to meet and share knowledge, playing technique, and research. Each year brings together dozens of researchers, collectors, musicians, and instrument builders from across the nation to participate in workshops, jam sessions, and scholarly lectures. Programming is conducted in and around an 1810s threshing barn, lending an appropriate setting and atmosphere that is both scholarly and casual.

Scheduled activities will feature diverse program sessions each day. Presenters will talk or demonstrate on a wide range of subjects, including instrument construction, playing techniques, music, history, and other topics closely associated with the early American banjo. The conference’s schedule allows ample time for “jam sessions” and mentoring with some of the nation’s most experienced players. As a way to share our love for banjo music with the world, a free public concert will be held on Saturday evening at 5:00pm on the lawn located behind the Royer House at the front of the property (rain location is Fahnestock Barn). Registered An Early Banjo Gathering participants are invited to perform alongside their peers, but participation is optional.

What to Expect This Year

Registration for An Early Banjo Gathering includes the following:

  • Extensive use of the Fahnestock Barn and historic farmstead from 10:00am on Friday, June 25, 2021 through 1:00pm on Sunday, June 26, 2021. Our upper barn is opened to the public just a handful of times a year!
  • Invitation to camp overnight on the historic Fahnestock Farm property for up to three (3) nights. Hotel accommodations are available in nearby Waynesboro or Chambersburg, PA. (See “Participant Information” below.)
  • Complimentary tours of the 1812 Royer House and historic front farmstead on Thursday, June 24, Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26, 2021 anytime between the hours of 1:00-4:00pm. Tours are available to registrants as well as their accompanying non-participating family members and guests.
  • Several engaging presentations by peers and experts in early banjo music and culture. Presenters will talk or demonstrate on a wide range of subjects, which may include instrument construction, playing techniques, music, history, and other topics closely associated with the early American banjo.
  • Four (4) meals: Lunch on Friday, June 25; Continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday, June 26; Continental breakfast on Sunday, June 27. Optional meal tickets are available to accompanying non-particpating family members and guests at $10.00 each (see “Meal Planning” below).
  • Multiple chances for “jam sessions”, mentoring, and building friendships with fellow musicians and banjo enthusiasts throughout Renfrew’s beautiful grounds
  • Opportunity to perform for Renfrew’s guests in a free public concert at 5:00pm on Saturday, June 26, 2021
  • A whole lot of fun!

Full Schedule of Events is Forthcoming

Participant Information

Host Site

An Early Banjo Gathering will be held at Renfrew Museum and Park, 1010 E. Main Street, Waynesboro, PA. Renfrew is a historic site and park open to the public daily from dawn until dusk. Located about 25 miles southwest of Gettysburg, PA in Franklin County, Renfrew can be accessed from the PA-16 exit on major highways including I-81 and US-15.

Map of Renfrew Museum and Park

Participants may check in with museum staff in the Visitors Center anytime between 3:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday, June 24, 2021. If arriving after 8:00pm, please indicate ETA on your registration form so we may put you in direct contact with the event coordinators for after-hours check-in.

Upon arrival, participants are asked to enter using the main drive off of PA-16 (Buchanan Trail/Main Street). Park in the gravel lot located immediately north (behind) of our Visitors Center which is inside the big white and green horse barn. Follow the concrete path adjacent to the handicapped parking area to the opposite side of the barn. Our main entrance is directly across from the flagpole.

Once checked-in, please carefully drive up the gravel lane to the rear Fahnestock Farmstead to unload instruments, supplies, etc. and/or set up camping equipment (see “Accommodations” below).  In order to maintain Renfrew’s historic vistas and for the safety for our guests, we ask that all vehicles be returned to either the gravel Visitors Center lot or parked at the “Lower Lot” located off of Welty Road (see “Parking” below). A museum staff member will be available to transport those with mobility concerns in a golf cart from the parking lots to the Fahnestock Barn as needed. Please indicate on your registration form if golf cart transport is not sufficient to meet your needs and special accommodation to use one’s own vehicle for transport up and down the lane to the barn is required. Renfrew is happy to oblige so conference participants can traverse the grounds safely and comfortably.

Renfrew Museum and Park is an alcohol and smoke-free facility.

No consumption of adult beverages, smoking, or vaping is permitted on site. Participants registering for this event are subject to Renfrew’s Park Use Policy and must abide by all park rules as well as any event-specific guidelines. Remember, our guests will think of you as an extension of Renfrew Museum and Park’s regular programming. While you are a guest yourself, you are also a representative of Renfrew while at the park. Please act in a courteous, respectful, and responsible manner at all times.


On-site Camping

Renfrew is not an official camp ground. Special accommodation is being made for the weekend to allow banjo conference participants and their accompanying non-participant family members, partners, or guests an opportunity to stay on site. Please note that the designated camping area for the weekend is located to the rear (southwest) of Fahnestock Barn along the edge of the cornfield on Memorial Trail. Please arrange period or modern tents only (RVs/campers must be located in parking areas) in such a way that they are minimally visible from the lane if possible. A water source and port-a-pot restroom facilities (see below) are located in the immediate vicinity. We ask that you keep paved walking trail clear of any equipment. Please note that Renfrew’s grounds open at dawn and you may encounter park users on the trail near your campsite. Locate fire-pits far away from cornfield, buildings, and structures. Share cooking fires whenever possible.


If camping isn’t your thing, Renfrew encourages attendees to select overnight accommodations within Franklin County, PA. The Franklin County Hotel Tax supports historic places and tourism entities like ours by funding our non-profit partner, the Franklin County Visitors Bureau.

A suggested list of local hotels can be found here.


Parking is located in either the Visitors Center Lot, located immediately behind the big green and white horse barn near PA-16/Buchanan Trail/Main Street OR in the Lower Lot, located off of Welty Road accessed by a drive beside the Washington Township Police Station. No vehicles, except with express prior permission from museum staff, are allowed at the Fahnestock Farmstead during public hours (dawn to dusk). RVs or campers must be located in one of the two parking lots. No exceptions.

Meal Planning

Conference registration includes four (4) meals: lunch on Friday, June 25, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, June 26, and breakfast on Sunday, June 27. Please indicate any special dietary considerations on your registration form. Dinners will be on your own. Please refer to listings on the Chamber of Commerce’s website for great dining options in the Greater Waynesboro Area. Our community also has a variety of grocery and convenience stores for your snacking pleasure! Closest place to stop that would meet most of your needs is Martin’s Food, located at 708 E. Main Street. Turn left out of our main entrance on PA-16 and drive toward town for three blocks. Martin’s plaza is on your left. We also have a Walmart Supercenter if you head in the opposite direction at 12751 Washington Township Blvd, behind the Lowe’s.

Accompanying non-participating family members and guests have the option to purchase meal tickets in advance at $10.00 each. Please purchase your meal tickets no later than seven (7) days prior to the Gathering so we may share accurate counts with the caterer. Due to the museum’s need to plan in advance for food arrangements, unused meal tickets will be forfeited. No refunds, sorry.


The closest restroom facilities to the Fahnestock Barn are port-a-pots located in a small red structure behind the barn. There is an paved ramp to access these off of the walking trail and electric overhead lighting inside (you may still wish to bring a flashlight, though). Another port-a-pot is located near the Lower Parking Lot and picnic grounds. Flush toilets are located at the Visitors Center and will be open for the duration of the conference should participants require them. No shower facilities are available at Renfrew.

Museum Amenities

Renfrew Museum and Park offers many amenities for our guests to enjoy! Please take advantage of our free permanent exhibits of John Bell pottery, Pennsylvania-Kentucky longrifles, and historic tradesmen’s tools in the Visitors Center barn as well as our museum gift shop. Conference participants are encouraged to go on complimentary Museum House tours with our trained docents on the hour at 1:00pm, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The park grounds are open for your enjoyment while you’re visiting with us. During daylight hours, feel free to explore our many walking trails, gardens, cemetery, and other features. Wade, swim or fly fish in the Antietam Creek, picnic in the shade, and more! After dark, for your safety, we ask that you remain out of the water and off wooded trails including the Edmajoda, Powerline, Crossover, Salty Grimes, Tail Race, Blue Heron, Old Mill, and the Plantation Trail. Please do not venture into the woods at night.

Period Clothing

Period or historic clothing is encouraged at the Gathering, but not required. Historic clothing should reflect the time period 1840 to 1900. Remember, our guests will think of you as an extension of Renfrew Museum and Park’s regular programming and interpretation. While you are a guest yourself, you are also a representative of Renfrew while at the park this weekend. Please act in a courteous, respectful, and responsible manner at all times, especially when in period dress. Renfrew asks that you please wear your participant badge during public hours (dawn to dusk) so our visitors can distinguish you from institutional staff and volunteers. While we are so grateful for the breadth of knowledge and interpretive expertise you’ll be bringing to the Gathering, Renfrew respectfully requests that any questions related to the history of the property, buildings, or collections be directed to museum staff.

We look forward to welcoming you to Renfrew for An Early Banjo Gathering 2021. If you have any questions regarding our property or conference schedule, please call (717) 762-4723 or email