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Article updated: 9/2/2013 8:07 PM

Folk music a hit at Fox Valley festival in Geneva

Sparky Rucker of Maryville, Tenn., weaves a tale for a delighted crowd Monday during the 37th annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival Monday at Island Park in Geneva.

Sparky Rucker of Maryville, Tenn., weaves a tale for a delighted crowd Monday during the 37th annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival Monday at Island Park in Geneva.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

Margaret Mantle and Elliot Zashin of Evanston share a dance while enjoying the sounds of Dennis Stroughmatt & Creole Spirit on Monday during the 37th annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva. We love this festival and we especially love the Cajun music, Mantle said.

Margaret Mantle and Elliot Zashin of Evanston share a dance while enjoying the sounds of Dennis Stroughmatt & Creole Spirit on Monday during the 37th annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva. "We love this festival and we especially love the Cajun music," Mantle said.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

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What more perfect setting than the verdant banks of the Fox River to enjoy the sounds of folk music?

Lissette Rivera of Carpentersville said attending the 37th annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva was a great way to spend Labor Day.

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"It's a beautiful day," she said. "It's so peaceful and nice to hear the music and lay out by the river."

Rivera came with her daughter Alexis and Alexis' boyfriend, Ryan Voss, of West Dundee. "It's awesome," Voss said.

The festival featured about 200 performers of folk music, dance and storytelling on eight stages. Performers came from more than a dozen states, organizers said.

Betts and Gerry Siwy of Elgin have been going to the festival for about 20 years. On Monday, they took their granddaughters Faith, 2, and Allainna, 3, for their first visit.

"This is the second set of grandkids we're bringing," Betts said. "We love the different music and the storytelling. Every year we have our favorites."

John Ness of Joliet came to see the Dulcimer Society of Northern Illinois. Ness, a dulcimer player, said he liked the variety of instruments, including the mountain dulcimer and the hammered dulcimer, plus the flute, guitar and autoharp.

"I've seen a lot of dulcimer performances. This one is a good blend, and is also very informative," he said.

Volunteer coordinator Kristen Shilt said about 120 volunteers took part in setting up the festival, organized by the Fox Valley Folklore Society, the Geneva Park District and the city of Geneva.

Festival founder Juel Ulven couldn't make it this year because he was in the hospital, his son Zach Ulven said. "He's doing much better."

The festival's location next to the Fox River Bike Trail attracts a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have heard of, or come to, the festival, Shilt said.

That's exactly what happened to volunteers John and Jan Sargent, of Aurora, who first stumbled across it three years ago during a bike ride. The two have since immersed themselves in the folk music world. "The people are nice," Jan said. "Folk people are nice."

Erin and Patrick Donovan, members of the band Under the Willow, said they hoped to find a jam session to join. Both are from the Tri-Cities area but spend most of their time on the road with their "newgrass" band.

"It's really cool to see that so many of these people enjoy this music," Patrick said.

"Bluegrass instruments are really coming back for the young generation," Erin said.

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