After two years of only virtual performances, the 46th annual Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival returns Labor Day weekend with three days of online shows, as well as a different performance venue for live concerts the final two days.
On Sept. 4 and 5, the live in-person stage will move to a smaller indoor venue, the Acoustic Renaissance Concerts hall in the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, 11 W. Maple St., in Hinsdale. It is expected that the festival will return to its traditional Island Park setting in Geneva in 2023, according to a news release.
Featured musicians and groups at the Acoustic Renaissance Concerts hall will include February Sky, Tim Grimm, the Rev. Robert Jones, Lee Murdock, Trillium and Jack Williams. Daytime performances at Acoustic Renaissance will be in-the-round groupings of three performers every 90 minutes in the spontaneous song-swapping format often seen in Nashville clubs and folk festivals in the U.S. and Canada.
The Sunday evening concert, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 4, will feature Lee Murdock, Trillium and Tim Grimm. The Monday evening concert, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5, will showcase February Sky, Rev. Robert Jones and Jack Williams, and will close with a chorus-singing finale featuring all six performers and the audience.
The festival always has offered music and storytelling on multiple stages, and this year’s virtual and in-person stages will feature music and storytelling performers via the internet, streaming live from both the home stages of the virtual performers and from the Acoustic Renaissance Concerts hall for viewing from the comforts of home.
For those unable to travel to the live performance venue, this year’s hybrid format means all the performances at the hall in Hinsdale will be livestreamed, along with additional performances by off-site musicians and storytellers.
The virtual stages will kick off Saturday night, Sept. 3, with two concurrent livestreams.
At 6:30 p.m., the Storytelling Stage goes live with a concert of “Scary Stories/Ghost Stories.” This is an all-ages concert featuring nationally renowned storytellers Anne Shimojima and Megan Wells, along with guest tellers Beth Horner and Janice Del Negro. All tellers have been featured at storytelling festivals around the country, from the famed Jonesborough Tennessee National Storytelling Festival to regional festivals that often include artists-in-the-schools as well as adult general audiences. Storytelling – it’s not just for kids, festival organizers said.
The Virtual Music Stage goes live Saturday night with a main stage concert by storytellers performing from remote locations: Sparky and Rhonda Rucker will perform from their home in Tennessee and songwriter John Gorka from his home in Minnesota. Other remote performers will include autoharp/songwriter Bryan Bowers and storyteller Emily Hooper Lansana. The traditional All-Sing Finale will include both in-person and the remote performers.
The online festival will continue on Sunday and Monday, with two livestreaming stages running from noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Labor Day.
Tickets for the live events and donation links for the online events are available only at the Fox Valley Folklore Society’s website at www.fvfs.org. Information also is offered at 630-667-3284.
Daily admission costs $30 for adults and $20 for those younger than 16 in advance at fvfs.org. Online viewing by freewill donation suggests $25 a day per adult. Donations go to the festival artists.
Special Geneva event
Friends of Fox Valley Folk Festival plans an informal gathering and jam from noon to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 3 at Island Park in Geneva. “Let’s gather to catch up with each other,” festival organizers said. People should bring chairs, drinks and snacks. The pavilion is available in case of rain. The invitation is extended to the event’s many volunteers, performers and regular attendees.
Juel Ulven in memoriam
Organizers shared news that Juel Ulven of North Aurora, founder of the Fox Valley Folklore Society and a driving force behind the festival, died Aug. 19. Friends noted “he will be remembered especially for his great and many contributions to the folklore community and for his fearless enthusiasm and ready smile.”
To learn about the programs sponsored year-round by the Fox Valley Folklore Society, go to fvfs.org.