MONMOUTH — This weekend, you have a chance to experience the culture and music of Ireland, Samoa and South America without leaving Polk County.

Dallas Arts Association’s Polk County Folklife Festival returns to Western Oregon University’s Werner Center on Saturday for its fourth installment. The event brings a variety of musicians, dancers and artists representing culture and crafts from all over the world.

“It’s not like you are going to a concert to hear one kind of music. You can walk in and two stages are running simultaneously and maybe you are more interested in marimba music, well you can see marimba music. At the same time, you have an opportunity to go see Samoan dancing,” said festival organizer Kurt Dugan. “There’s multiple opportunities to experience different cultures. Maybe you wouldn’t ever have the opportunity to go to Samoa. You can do it right there.”

This year, organizers have lowered the price of admission to $5 per person or $3 if you bring two cans of food to donate to the university’s food pantry.

“We just wanted to afford the opportunity for more folks to be able to afford it,” Dugan said. “If you have a large family or have a lower income, it might be prohibitive.”

Last year’s festival was the first at the Werner Center and drew about 500 people, Dugan said.

“We would love to double that. It’s hard to tell because it’s spring break,” Dugan said. “Hopefully the weather will be nasty, and people will want to be inside and come to the festival.”

The 2019 edition will have two stages, the Sally Clark Stage in the Columbia Room at the center and the Jane Keefer Stage in the Pacific Room. A storyteller and a fiddle work shop are on the schedule in the Michael Eichman Children’s Area in the Calapooia Room. 

In the Santiam Room is the Truman Price Jam Center, which attracts musicians and listeners alike for session general jam sessions, Irish music and music of the Oregon Trail.

“We are getting a little more dedicated to the times. That way people can actually pick what they would like to go do,” Dugan said. “We have seating there for people to just sit down and watch people play. It was full the whole day last year.”

Folklife will not have vendors, but artists and crafters putting on demonstrations of woodworking, carving, rope making, basket weaving and other crafts.

“That’s our new focus, on demonstration,” Dugan said. “It ties into the folk art part of the festival where people can see things being done and made.”

In one case, they can participate. Cajun musician Kelly Thibodeaux will perform on the Jane Keefer stage, but also will put on a fiddle workshop in the children’s area in the afternoon.

“He performed last year in the band, but also in the children’s area. He brought like 30 fiddles and taught people how to do some fiddle playing,” Dugan said. “Kelly just has this style of getting people right up and going on it. We are very excited to have him back.”

If you go

What: Polk County Folklife Festival.

When: Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Werner University Center at Western, 345 Monmouth Ave., Monmouth.

Admission: $5 per person or $3 with a donation of two cans of food to benefit WOU’s food pantry.

Of note: Items most needed at the food pantry — spices, sauces, canned soup, canned fruit, mac & cheese, ramen, peanut butter, canned tuna, canned chicken, nuts, rice, noodles, gluten-free options, dairy-free options, vegan options, cooking oil, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and toilet paper.

Performance Schedule

Jane Keefer Stage (Pacific Room)

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Tashinga (Marimba Band)

1-2 p.m.: Cash & Company (Country, Rockabilly, Folk, Old Time Fiddle)

2:30-3:30 p.m.: Youngberg Hill Band (Traditional Bluegrass)

4-5 p.m.: Kelly Thibodeaux (Cajun)

Sally Clark Stage (Columbia Room)

11 a.m.-Noon: Orchard Mt. String Band (Fiddle, Blues, Folk)

12:30-1:30 p.m.: Paradise of Samoa (Dance)

2-3 p.m.: Pipe Dance (Irish Music)

3:30-4:30 p.m.: Chayag (Andean Music)

Michael Eichman Children’s Area (Callapooia Room)

Craft Table and Coloring Books

Noon-1 p.m.: Doug the Mountain Man Storytelling

2-3pm: Fiddle Workshop with Kelly Thibodeaux

Truman Price Jam Center (Santiam Room)

11am-Noon: General Acoustic Music Jam Session

Noon-1 p.m.: Irish Session lead by Gary Burman

1-2 p.m.: General Acoustic Music Jam Session

2-3 p.m.: Truman Price “Music of the Oregon Trail”

3-4:15 p.m.: General Acoustic Music Jam Session

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.