Folk music festival celebrates 40 years

After 40 years, Mielke Park is still hosting the Shawano Folk Music Festival that was started by Joel Kroenke.

“I’m impressed that people have stayed together and supported the event,” Kroenke said.

The anniversary will be celebrated with a limited edition CD of 40 songs from 40 musicians. Dori Jerger, Randy Bruce, and Kroenke worked on the CD for 11 months.

“I got the background to know how to pull this off,” Bruce said.

He has several CDs and has written songs, including “Goin’ Back to Shawano” which he wrote in 1972. That song is the last one on the CD.

“It’s a beautiful anthology because it covers all the music we play at the festival,” Bruce said.

Bruce, who was born and raised in Shawano, started country/rock bands and moved back here in 2015 when he retired. He will be one of several local musicians to take the stage during the festival.

Jerger first attended the festival in 1981.

“I love it,” she said. “As soon as I stepped onto the park path, there was sunlight and beautiful music.”

Jerger is a director emeritus after being a co-director for eight out of the last 10 years. Now she does graphics and advertising and is in charge of the festival CD sales. The CDs are available at Makin’ Music and the Sun Drop Museum.

“Some of the best musicians in the country come right here to Shawano,” she said.

Along with the musical performers there are crafts which include Celtic wood burning and Indian beadwork, jewelry, candles, knitted and crocheted items, children’s books, concrete leaves and copper wire trees, and several authors with their books.

Quilters Arlene Stucker, Donna Bubolz, and Durham Herzog again made two extraordinary quilts to be raffled off.

The Buckskinners’ Rendevous will be displaying some of the old skills at Bullfrog Flats stage. The Open Stage provides an opportunity for a singer or musician to show their skills.

Food will be provided by The Songbird Café, The Main Squeeze, T&W Real Pit Barbeque, and Shawano Boy Scout Troop 32. A cookbook is also available with recipes from the volunteers and musicians.

Volunteers are needed to stack chairs, sell tickets, light stages, host musicians, hang posters, serve food, and anything else that needs doing.

The festival goes on rain or shine.

“People who come for the first time say how come I didn’t know about this,” Jerger said.

“There are many larger festivals, but not much better,” Kroenke said.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: Shawano Folk Music Festival

WHEN: Aug. 10-12. Evening performances on Aug. 10-11 begin at 7 p.m. Daytime events on Aug. 11-12 begin at 10 a.m.

WHERE: Mielke Park, N5649 Airport Road, Shawano

ADMISSION: $64 weekend pass, $22 evening concert, $12 day pass