Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ozark Folk Festival, Eureka Springs

OZARK FOLK FESTIVAL P.O. Box 88 Eureka Springs, AR 72632 (479) 253-8737

This may not be the grand-daddy of American folk festivals, but it is definitely in the running. The first one ran in 1948-a time when being an Arkie wasn't popular. Happily, times have changed and Ozark culture and music is getting the appreciation and respect it deserves. The Ozark Folk Festival is a wonderful family event which takes place in Eureka Springs in early November. First of all, consider your accommodations. Eureka Springs is on the National Register of Historic Places in its own right, and is loaded with great B&Bs and inns to welcome you. Make reservations early-this is a popular festival. So, what can you expect at this gathering? Honest Ozark music and song, for one thing. Only authenticated music at least 70 years old is allowed, and much dates back farther than that. The music is played on acoustic instruments by musicians who are generally not professionals. Instruments include harmonicas, banjos, dulcimers, fiddles and others you may or may not have even heard of. But it's not just a sit-and-listen event. Dancers are all over the place, taking advantage of the great music. You will find jig and clog and square dance, and discover how many types of clogging there are. It's hard not to dance to good mountain music, so do your stretches after your country breakfast and head for the streets to kick up your heels. And there's more--crafts, the Festival Queen Contest, workshops, concerts, and what makes a good folk festival so special - impromptu jamming around this corner and that. Some of the best music at a really fine festival will be on porches and in public dining rooms as musicians run into old friends they haven't played with since last year, or find an audience that brings out the very best in a fiddler.

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