Folk Festival coming to Battelle Darby Metro Park
Musicians from all over central Ohio will gather on May 4-6 at Battelle Darby Metro Park to celebrate the 16th annual Central Ohio Folk Festival.
It started off as a dulcimer festival and gradually became a folk music festival, said organizer Sharon Mittenbergs. Participants come from all over Ohio and Michigan. The festival usually brings in about 300 to 500 people depending on the weather.
Co-organizer Art Mittenbergs and his wife, Sharon, have been involved with the festival for 16 years.
“We became involved when I purchased my first dulcimer,” Sharon said.
Sharon said when she was battling cancer her husband was involved with a group that had a meeting in Dayton. A woman brought out a dulcimer.
“She sat down and played one or two folk songs,” Sharon said. “I fell in love with it.”
Art is trained in classical music, having taken piano lessons for several years. On the car ride home they decided to broaden their musical horizons and listen to folk music. Sharon purchased her first dulcimer at a flea market and began taking lessons.
This is their second year running the festival. They took over for Fred and Nancy Bailey who ran it since its inception.
Managing the festival has been easy because people share the responsibility from publicity to workshops and the evening concert. There are 10 to 12 people on the steering committee, Sharon said.
Art is serving as vice president of the Folk Music Society, which sponsors the festival, along with WCBE and Franklin County Metro Parks.
For the Mittenbergs the highlight of the festival is seeing everyone enjoy the music, knowing they will go home with more understanding of folk music instruments.
The folk music festival will include hourly spotlight concerts on Saturday and Sunday by soloists, duos and groups, singing and playing guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, harp and other instruments with a wide range of folk music – work songs, slave songs, Celtic tunes, love songs, sea shanties, lullabies and English ballads.
“All of the music has been passed down from generation to generation,” Sharon said.
There are 30 workshops and 10 concerts planned. Except for the Saturday evening concert, the concerts are free and open to the public. There is a nominal charge for the workshops. For $35 you can participate in all the workshops or pay $5 apiece.
“These people that come out are not familiar with folk music, thinking this is going to be dull only to find out differently,” Sharon said.
A new addition this year is a bagpipe workshop and a harp program. A harpist from Westerville is coming and bringing about 10 of her students to put on a concert. After the concert there will be a workshop for participants who want to learn more about the harp.
“The workshops are the primary event, teaching and giving more experience and knowledge,” Art said. “We will have music going the whole time.”
The festival includes a potluck supper on Friday evening followed by the “worst song in the world,” contest, a special children’s area on Saturday and Sunday with performers leading kids’ songs and telling tall tales.
The festival starts on May 4 at Battelle Darby Metro Park, 1775 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway, Ohio, and ends with an evening concert with Ukulele Cowboy Society and Mean Mary from 7 to 9 p.m. There is a $15 charge for the evening concert. On May 6 the festival hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.