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Northwest Folklife 2013


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How was Folklife this year?

I used to live in Olympia and always enjoyed going up to Folklife when it came around. My interests changed over the years, from dancing (contra, cajun, swing) toward singing (shanties) and listening (just everything) and playing (samba, of all things!) I didn't play concertina yet then, as I didn't aquire one until I lived here in England, so I wonder what there was at folklife for the 'tina? It isn't possible to really be aware of everything going on. There was always so much on that to hear anything meant missing something else you wanted to hear, and even looking at the schedule was enough to wear someone out! Good times.

Ted

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I was at Folklife this year for three of the four days. There were a few scheduled performers playing concertina, and I think I knew all but one of them. I believe I read in the Seattle paper that there were "thousands of performers" and about 250,000 people expected to attend this year. I think I'd have a problem buying into "thousands" but would feel comfortable say there were "hundreds" of performers. There are about a dozen main venues (most are outdoors), each with full performance schedules, plus there is always an abundant sprinkling of buskers around the several acre grounds. The weather wasn't very cooperative this year so it was cool and damp, with the most rain on the last day of the event.

 

As to the total number of concertinas, I was in no position to do a count, but based on the performance schedule, actual sightings and past experience, I'd be surprised if a dozen total showed up over the course of the event.

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There are about a dozen main venues (most are outdoors)

That's strange. In the past there have been about 35 different stages with performers/bands changing about every 30 minutes or every hour. The flyer (with map) clearly shows where they all are and who is scheduled to perform at each stage. But I haven't been for a few years, so I suppose things could have changed. Most outdoor stages have an indoor alternative too, in case of rain.

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I agree that there are a lot of venues. It wasn't my intent to suggest the festival was growing smaller, rather just to project a sense of the scope of choices available to those that attended the festival for entertainment only, that is, to observe and listen rather than participate in a "jam" or receive instruction.

 

I just reviewed the map and event schedule and see 36 locations listed, pretty much evenly divided between those that are staged areas used for performances and the non-staged areas that are used for sessions, jams and workshops. As Laurence notes, most venues are kept busy through a good part of the four day event, although some of the workshop locations are only lightly used. While I appreciate the value of the workshops, my estimate in the prior post of "about a dozen" was intended to only encompass the larger (what I had in mind when I said "major") performance venues where the public is only involved as spectators.

 

Perhaps to provide better insight to those that might consider attending in the future, I should further explain that the performance venues range in size from large outdoor covered stages on open lawns that can hold hundreds of people down to a far smaller covered platform in a paved area with seating for perhaps fifty people (plus standing room) and a few indoor settings, one in particular with an elevated stage and an adjacent area large enough to accommodate a hundred or more dancers.

 

As to alternate locations in case of rain, I don't know that the event organizers didn't have contingency plans for that situation, but I saw no sign of any implementation and it was pretty wet at times the last day of the event.

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