Thunder Bay Folk Festival this weekend at Tractor Grounds | News, Sports, Jobs
ALPENA – You don’t need to play an instrument or sing to enjoy the music this weekend.
The 7th Annual Thunder Bay Folk Festival begins today (for camping registration) and runs through Sunday at the Alpena Antique Tractor Showgrounds at 6850 French Road, Alpena.
The festival will feature live music from at least 18 musicians, as well as workshops, children’s activities, live demonstrations, craft and food vendors, rustic camping, and more.
“Everyone is looking forward to it,” said Bonnie Bartz, president of the Thunder Bay Folk Society, which runs the festival.
She said the musicians were excited to perform and the craft vendors were also excited to be able to participate in the festival.
Performers include Peacemeal String Band, Mercier, Seth Bernard, Chris Crown & The Get Down Band, The Hackwells, Ferdinand The Bull, Citrus Orange, The Mark Lavengood Band, Sean Miller, Kimberly Megoran, Ian McConnell, Love St. Live, Kevin Ballmer, Tina Honeker, Joel Choate Sr., Lee Kitzman, Russ Franzen and Wild Rose, of which Bartz is the lead singer.
Most of the artists are from Michigan, but Ferdinand The Bull is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“A lot of the people who come are musicians themselves,” Bartz noted. “There are a lot of games sitting around the campsite, there is also some scrambling, which is part of the fun.”
Open mic times will be offered, along with jam sessions and a drum kiva (drum circle) in the woods after dark, which is mesmerizing, Bartz said.
“Back in the woods we’ll have a bonfire, and usually starting around nightfall, Paul Conger will be back to lead it,” Bartz said. “Anyone, you can bring a drum, or Paul will bring a bunch of drums, you just drummer.” It’s a bit hypnotic. This is very fun.”
Bartz expects around 400 people to attend the event, around 300 fewer than in 2019, but she is happy the festival can take place this year after being canceled during the pandemic in 2020.
“I think some people might be a little hesitant,” Bartz said, as the COVID-19 pandemic is still dragging on. “It’s kind of a mix of people who are very anxious to go out and other people who are still a little nervous.”
She noted that the event takes place mostly outdoors and that the main stage is located in a barn with wide doors to the outside and open air circulation.
The event is fun for all ages, she added.
“The Optimist Club will be there to organize activities for the children,” Bartz said. “And the Alpena Boys & Girls Club will be there.”
Twister Joe will be on hand to make balloons and hats for the kids, she said, courtesy of the Alpena Optimist Club.
She added that the health department will be there, offering vaccinations and COVID-19 tests for those who are interested.
Doors open at 8 a.m. on Fridays and performances start at 1 p.m. and go until midnight. Then they reopen at 8 a.m. on Saturday, which is the day with the most performances, until midnight.
An all weekend pass costs $ 50 at the door, or $ 15 for Friday and $ 35 for Saturday. Young people aged 15 and under enter for free. Discounted tickets are available today only at Joel’s Guitar Shop. You can enter for $ 15 after 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Volunteers are always needed and come in for free if they work four hours.
Rustic camping costs $ 20 per night on a first come, first served basis.
For more information, including a full program and artist biographies, visit thunderbayfolkfest.org.
Bartz is keeping his fingers crossed for the good weather.
“People say, ‘Why do you have it so late in the year? “But the weather is unpredictable all year round,” she noted. “And we have a big community bonfire, so if it’s cold, people have a place to go to warm up.”