The Island Park North Bridge still may be under rebuilding, but Island Park is open and in full swing today, Labor Day 2012.
The 37th Annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, and the music of dulcimers, guitars, banjos, and fiddles will fill the air at Island Park along with folk tales and storytelling by performers from more than 15 states.
Juel Ulven is the driving force behind the festival, having organized the event since 1977 at the height of the disco craze. A few hundred people attended then, but Ulven expects more than 5,000 people each day this year.
Ulven cites the findings of studies on collections of early ballads, some originating in the 1600s. These lyrical ballads were passed along through generations from peasants; the origins remain unknown. Ulven said what is surprising about the findings is that ballads collected by two different sources, several hundred miles apart, and sometimes from hundreds of years apart, differ by only a few words in a song that's sometimes 15 minutes long.
This truly is a festival with something for everyone, with entertainment on eight stages running continuously with concerts, hands-on teaching, storytelling, crafters and various workshops. Craftspeople will display and sell handmade instruments, and records and tapes of the performers along with folk art displays of weaving, stained glass, tinware, and pottery.
For more information, go to www.foxvalleyfolk.com for a list of performers and details and location for the workshops. Donations are encouraged at several booths at the festival with a suggested admission for adults at $15 per day, $10 for teens and seniors. Under 12 are free.
The festival is sponsored by The Fox Valley Folklore Society in cooperation with the Geneva Park District. Island Park is on the east side of the Fox River, south of Route 38. Free parking is available at the Kane Government Center at 719 S. Batavia Ave. (Route 31) and in the commuter parking areas nearby.