Upcoming Folk Festival full of music, dancing

An “instrument petting zoo” is among the attractions for children at the Central Ohio Folk Festival, a weekend of folksong activities for all ages, May 6-7 at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

(Posted April 26, 2017)

It’s one of the best kept secrets in central Ohio: an entire weekend of folksong activities, most of them totally free.

Yep, it’s the 21st Annual Central Ohio Folk Festival, nestled in the green and refreshing setting of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, located just outside of West Jefferson. Mark your calendar for May 6-7.

Among the free aspects of the festival are:

  • hourly spotlight concerts by soloists, duos and groups, singing and playing guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, harp and other instruments. Attendees will hear a wide range of folk music, including work songs, slave songs, Celtic tunes, love songs, sea shanties, 1960s protest songs, old English ballads, and lullabies;
  • a giant 1960s style folk music sing-along to open the festival;
  • a children’s area with performers leading kids’ songs and telling tall tales, plus an “instrument petting zoo” to let children handle folk instruments;
  • a tent featuring folk dancing, representing various countries and cultures;
  • singer-songwriters and young people performing in a special tent;
  • a drum circle where everyone, young and old alike, are invited to pound on a drum or other rhythm instrument; and
  • informal, spontaneous jamming by anyone with an instrument and/or voice.

For die-hard folkies and other musicians, dozens of hour-long workshops are planned. The topics range from song-writing and banjo picking to Appalachian clogging, playing by ear, and how to stage folk music concerts in your home. Workshop registration costs a total of $10 each day.

For $15, festival goers can attend a special Saturday concert under the stars. The opening act is “The Wonderhills,” a young group of musicians with lightning fast fingers who give a new, modern definition to the genre “bluegrass.” The featured act is John Gorka, a nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter at the forefront of the “new folk revival.”

“This is family entertainment at its finest,” said Diane Boston, festival director. “And it is a rich learning opportunity in multiple ways for all ages: whether it’s hearing a wide range of folk and acoustic roots music or trying out an instrument for the first time. Whether it is honing already existing musical skills or learning steps to a folk dance, it is bound to be a great experience for the whole family.”

The festival is sponsored by the Columbus Folk Music Society, WCBE Radio, and Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks.

For more information, to view a full schedule of performances, to register for workshops, or to purchase tickets for the Saturday night concert, go to the event website at columbusfolkmusicsociety.org.

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