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Fairbanks Folk Fest didn’t miss a beat returning to in-person performances

Published: Jun. 26, 2021 at 5:49 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -The sun was shining and the weather was perfect as The Fairbanks Folk Fest kicked off their concert this afternoon. This is the 33rd year the event has taken place and is a staple of the Interior summer.

Crowds of families and friends lined Ester Community Park, a gorgeous field surrounded by tall trees and a playground.

Ryan Bowers, the vice president of the Fairbanks Folk Fest Board, has been attending the event since he was a child.

“This is something that I grew up with, and I know a lot of people of my generation in Fairbanks did. It was just always a really special experience,” Bowers said. “It’s this picnic atmosphere. Just come out here with family or friends, just bring a blanket and just hang out.”

This is the first time the event was in person in a year and a half. The Interim President of the Fairbanks Folk Festival, Teesha Lane, said the organizers posted weekly musical performances on Facebook in early spring, unsure if an in-person event would occur. But, Lane said, as Covid-19 protocols eased, they wanted to try to do the festival again.

“Usually, we do it at the beginning of June,” Lane said. “We didn’t quite have the time to do that and we thought, let’s just back it up a little bit so we can still gather together.”

With several food trucks, multiple vendor booths, and 28 music groups performing, the event drew a large crowd even at the opening performance at noon.

“It’s just been something that community has wanted and needed to showcase their own amazing little artistry,” Lane added. “It’s been twice a year for a long time. We try to do a summer and a winter [event.] We haven’t done anything in a year in a half, so this is the first time budding again as a festival and we are just so excited that we can have so many local artists and showcase them to the community.”

Kayt Sunwood is a musician that has been frequenting the festival since the early 2000′s. She said her love for playing a bass instrument came from attending folk festivals.

“We came as soon as we drove up the Alaska Highway and found out there was a folk festival here. Our first festival was in 2004 and we have been to everyone since.” Sunwood said.

The Fairbanks Folk Festival started at noon Saturday in Ester Community Park and ran until 10 p.m. The event was free to the public. The Fest is completely run by volunteers. If you want to find out more information about the Fairbanks Folk Fest or donate to their non-profit, you can visit their website.

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