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updated: 8/30/2012 2:40 PM

Fox Valley Folk Festival features music and storytelling

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  • A group of musicians play folk music during last year's 35th Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park on the Fox River in Geneva. The group meets up every year to play together; some are old friends and some are new.

      A group of musicians play folk music during last year's 35th Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park on the Fox River in Geneva. The group meets up every year to play together; some are old friends and some are new.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • Visitors enjoy sitting in front of the main stage and listening to live folk music all afternoon during the 35th Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva.

      Visitors enjoy sitting in front of the main stage and listening to live folk music all afternoon during the 35th Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • Ty Westbrook of Appleton, Wi., plays the bass during a jam session at the 35th Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva. This year's festival is set for Sunday and Monday, Sept. 2-3.

      Ty Westbrook of Appleton, Wi., plays the bass during a jam session at the 35th Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva. This year's festival is set for Sunday and Monday, Sept. 2-3.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
By Fox Valley Folklore Society

Stories old and new will be shared through song and spoken word at the 36th annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival, set for Sunday and Monday, Sept. 2-3, at Island Park in Geneva.

The festival opens at 11 a.m. each day, with eight stages featuring folk music, storytelling and workshops, including a children's area with full-time performances and a "handmade" folk arts area.

Daily admission is $15 for adults, $10 for teens and elders, and free for youths age 12 and younger.

On Sunday evening, Sept. 2, there will also be an Old-Time Community Barn Dance from 6 to 7:30 p.m., followed by ghost stories in the big tent from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

The eight performance areas offer a wide variety of entertaining and educational choices for all ages. The main music stage presents traditional and contemporary folk music.

Five workshop areas will feature instrument, vocal, dance and topical song workshops, including many "Hands On" teaching sessions. Musicians should bring their instruments so they can participate in the workshops and sit in on the many jam sessions that go on all over the Island.

The main storytelling stage will feature many of the finest storytellers with tales from many places and times to entertain and educate all ages. Featured storytellers will present solo concert sets and will also join members of Fox Valley Folklore Society's Storytelling Guild in topical story segments. A new session will include a Story Slam where the audience interacts with the teller.

There will also be an area where selected craftspeople will display and sell hand-built musical instruments and other examples of folk art such as weaving, stained glass, tinware and pottery. This area also offers records and tapes by the musicians performing and a large general selection of other folk music recordings.

Another area will feature projects and entertainment for children.

Meals and light refreshments will be available onsite, or visitors can bring a picnic. Many restaurants are also available within a few blocks of the park.

The two days will feature more than 100 hours of folk music, dance, stories and workshops performed by more than thirty-five of the finest Midwest and national folk music and storytelling acts. More than 120 individual performers are presented during the weekend, and many of the area's top folklife organizations present showcases spotlighting their members and their organizational focus. The Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival is Illinois' largest folk festival, and is sponsored by the Fox Valley Folklore Society and the Geneva Park District.

During the two days visitors will hear songs and tunes from American traditions, the British roots of those traditions and music and stories from many cultures.

Visitors can learn clogging and traditional square and contredanses, try out their vocal abilities at a shape note singing workshop, hear stories from many traditions, learn to make European hand-style puppets, play spoons, learn to yodel or get some tips on writing a song. Learn about good folk music resources for your children, learn more about instruments and playing styles, or talk to working musicians about getting your act together and taking it on the road.

How it all started

The festival began in 1977 as a small event mainly featuring Fox Valley and Chicago area performers on a single concert stage with a few workshops and the group's very first Old Time Community Barn Dance.

As the Festival audience grew, stages were added and the reputation of the festival attracted performers from all over the Midwest and beyond. Last year more than 8,500 people from 12 to 15 states attended the festival, making it the largest folk music festival in Illinois.

It is organized and presented by an all-volunteer staff and has operated "in the black" since its inception without the use of state or federal arts grants, which is unusual for an event of this type.

Gate donations from the audience and support from more than 90 businesses and organizations in more than a dozen states pay the bills for this special event that is produced by a nonpaid staff and more than 175 volunteers.

How to get there

Island Park is located on an island in the Fox River in downtown Geneva. The north entrance to Island Park is at Route 38 and the Fox River, one block west of Route 25. The South entrance to the park is from the west bank of the Fox, via the walking and cycling bridge under the Metra Railroad trestle just northeast of the Kane Government Center at 719 S. Batavia Ave.

Parking is available at the Government Center and in the train station parking areas nearby.

Disabled access to the park is possible via sidewalk and paved paths that run the length of the Island near stages. In case of rain the festival will continue in the tents at each stage and the pavilion for shelter. Camping isn't allowed on the island, but is available at nearby public campgrounds.

Camping information is available on the Festival Web page, foxvalleyfolk.com or call (630) 897-3655.

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