The Folklife Festival is May 22-25 at Seattle Center. (Christopher Nelson photo)

The Folklife Festival is May 22-25 at Seattle Center. (Christopher Nelson photo)

After 45 years, Folklife fest more than hippies with fiddles

Tomorrow is opening day of the 46th annual Northwest Folklife Festival.

The gathering had its start in 1972, a time when hippies played fiddles. Oh, wait, they still do.

But as the Folklife website notes in its list of festival myth-busters, it’s not all about those hippies from the early ’70s. In fact you won’t find a more diverse event in all of the Pacific Northwest. It’s about the music, dance, stories and arts of people of all cultures.

Sure, many of the quarter-million people who will attend during the course of this coming Memorial Day weekend will sport gray hair and be in the crowds watching those old fiddlers.

But when cultural traditions — Native American, Celtic and Croatian dances, for example — are passed down to the next generations, lots of young people are involved. In other words, be sure to catch the young fiddlers at the festival. That is what Folklife is all about.

An estimated 6,000 performers will come from around Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Western Montana, Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta to participate in the festival.

Notable acts this year include: Squirrel Butter, The Skablins, Fabulous Roof Shakers, Vela Luka Croatian Ensemble, Mossyback Morris Men, Grace Love, The Warren G. Hardings, Total Experience Gospel Choir, Northwest Scottish Fiddlers, Wes Weddell, Bailadores de Bronce, LeRoy Bell, Smilin’ Scandinavians, Show Brazil!, the Not-Its!, Clinton Fearon.

The independent, nonprofit festival offers free admission, but it depends heavily on donations. A donation of $50 makes you a Friend of Folklife. Learn more about supporting Folklife at nwfolklife.kindbase.com.

During Folklife, those who attend will find plenty of vendors selling interesting food and crafts.

Also, the Pacific Northwest Craft Beer Festival is a festival within the festival. Located next to the Back Porch Stage just outside of the KEXP Gathering Space, the beer fest is 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 27-28. For $25, you get 10 5-ounce tastings of beers from 10 breweries. Check out the list of beers at pnwbeerfest.com.

Go early. Drink coffee while you wait for the first performances at 10 or 11 a.m. Plan to stay late. Learn more at www.nwfolklife.org.

Talk to us

More in Life

"Man and Wife" by Ula Nero
Polish emigrant in Mukilteo shares her colorful artistic vision

Ula Nero is inspired by the Expressionism and Fauvism movements to create funky pet portraits, and much more.

Metal scuptor Wayne Kangas made this fish-shaped weather vane out of 600 leftover stainless steel letters. (Langley Arts Fund)
This artful flying fish tells the weather in Langley

The Langley Arts Fund commissioned “Weather Vane II” by Wayne Kangas for public art in Clyde Alley.

Matt and Jill Wurst opened Audacity Brewing in December 2020 and are now managing to stay open, with the COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, at their brewery on 10th Street on Monday, Jan. 11, 2020 in Snohomish, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
It took some Audacity to open this new Snohomish brewery

The COVID-19 pandemic hit just as Matt and Jill Wurst were getting the business off the ground.

Carissa Hudson pulls a beer at Engel's Pub in Edmonds. At 86 years old, Engel's is one of the oldest bars in Snohomish County.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
When it’s finally safe, these dive bars are worth checking out

David Blend called the watering holes “an essential part of the American experience” in an ode to the haunts.

Enjoy stuffed mini bell peppers on Game Day. (Tulalip Resort Casino)
Make Tulalip chef’s stuffed mini bell peppers for game day

These one-bite treats can be prepped the night before, then popped into the oven for 10 minutes on Super Sunday.

Meatballs go hand-in-hand with spaghetti, but they also can add a wonderful flavor and texture to soup. Pair them with cheese tortellini and youêve got an amped-up version of Italian wedding soup. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/MCT)
Not just for spaghetti: Add meatballs to your winter soup

Make an amped-up version of Italian wedding soup with turkey meatballs and cheese tortellini.

The Infiniti QX50 luxury compact SUV is updated with additional standard features for 2021. (Manufacturer photo)
2021 Infiniti QX50 is updated with additional standard features

All versions of the luxury compact SUV now come with a Wi-Fi hotspot and rear seat side-impact airbags.

This pantry makeover was inspired by moths. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Careful organization turns small cabinets into a pantry

A moth infestation inspired her to break out the Tupperware and label maker for a well-sorted kitchen.

Dr. Paul on how to cope with disappointment and frustration

It’s important to greet these negative emotions by name and acknowledge that’s what you’re feeling.

Most Read