Crowds enjoy 42nd Annual folk festival

BRETHREN — If Saturday’s 42nd annual Spirit of the Woods Music Association Folk Festival proved anything it was that people love that type of music.

The 42nd Annual Spirit of the Woods Folk Festival took place on Saturday in the Dickson Township Park. Good crowds turned out for the event despite the cool temperatures and threat of rain throughout the day. (Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

The brisk temperature and periodic drizzling rain did little to deter the many who turned out with their folding and camp chairs at the Dickson Township Park to enjoy another version of the festival.

Seven main stage performers graced the festival with their sound; performances came from Natalie Palms, Pierce Pettis, Sons of the Never Wrong, Mudskippers, Patricia Pettinga and Bill Willging, and Conga Se Menne. Music began an noon and ran into the evening with good crowds being present throughout the day.

There also was a second stage for performers, kids games, craft exhibits and lots of food to enjoy throughout the day.

Wanda Joseph, of the Spirit of the Woods Music Association, said the Folk Festival plays a special role in many people’s hearts and they have people who have been coming to Brethren every year for decades to enjoy it.

“We have a really strong core of people who love the music that we bring to the park, and they are ready even if it rains,” said Joseph. “So it looks like the rain has has passed on through today, so the people are really excited about hearing the music.”

Joseph said they had quite a bit of variety in the musical groups this year and where they come from.

“One of the fun things about the festival this year is our bands come from Boston, New Orleans, Nashville, Chicago, Marquette and Kalamazoo,” said Joseph. “The Spirit of the Woods organization is to promote folk music and related arts in the community and one of the ways we promote that is to bring people that the folk community in Michigan haven’t been able to hear before. It’s a real treat to introduce bands to the Michigan community.”

Joseph joked that the organizers were just “young pups” when they organized the first festival 42 years ago, but that they still enjoy doing it.

This year they had a special tribute to honor one of the all time greats of folk music.

“Today on the second stage Natalie Mae Palms is doing a special tribute to honor Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday this year,” said Joseph.

There also was an interesting quirk among two of the musical groups performing during the day.

“One of the fun little stories is the fiddler for Natalie Mae’s band knows the Mudskippers group from Boston and neither one has ever performed in Michigan before until today when they met in little Brethren,” said Joseph.

What makes the folk music special, Joseph said, is people can relate to it. She added that is what brings people back every year.

“So much of the music talks about the human experience or people can relate to it,” said Joseph. “It’s not something you can hear on the radio. Somebody told me they were here when their kids were little and when I asked how old they were they said 42. It’s a tradition and they love it.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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