What is the Shawano Folk Music Festival?

It’s a weekend of music, dance and crafts, held at Mielke Park in Shawano. There are two concerts inside Mielke Theater (Friday night and Saturday night), each of them featuring 4-5 different performers. On Saturday and Sunday during the day, 4 outdoor stages are filled with music and dance. In addition, there are food vendors, crafters, children’s activities, an open stage – and our annual Quilt Raffle. It’s music, dance, friends and family. The festival is put on each year by a group of dedicated volunteers, under the sponsorship of the Shawano County Arts Council.

Where is it held?

Mielke Park at 5636 Airport Rd., Shawano, Wisconsin. See details about the festival location at this link. 

When is it held?

The Shawano Folk Music Festival is held every year during the second weekend in August.

How long has it been going on?

The festival began in 1979, and has been held the 2nd weekend in August ever since.

What kind of music is featured? (I thought “folk music” ended in the ‘70’s.)

“Folk Music” is as hard to define as other kinds of music. We define it as music that comes directly from the culture and experiences of people, rather than coming from or through commercial interests. It includes much of the music we all know – but we can’t quite say where we learned it. It tends to be acoustic – but not always. It can involve a lot of audience participation – but not always. It can be very old music (decades and centuries old) – but not always (it could be music that was written last week). It’s old favorites, sing-alongs, blues, bluegrass, jazz, children’s music, ballads, dance tunes and silly songs. It’s music that comes out of the culture of Appalachia, the American west, American cities, the Louisiana bayou and Tin Pan Alley. It’s music that comes out of the cultures of the British Isles, Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Australia. It’s music for every age group, from very young children to grandparents. Folk music doesn’t get played much on the radio, but it’s as alive as rock and roll.

What about crafts?

Crafters are an important part of the Shawano Folk Music Festival. Fine artists and crafters set up booths in Mielke Park, many of them demonstrating and teaching. They include potters, weavers, jewelers, candlemakers, woodcarvers, blacksmiths, sculptors, painters, toymakers, instrument makers.

What if it rains?

The Festival goes on rain or shine! The evening concerts are held indoors. The daytime programs are held outdoors, but most of our stages are under tents. If that’s not enough protection from the rain, we move the music inside.

I’m coming from out of town. Where can I stay?

Unfortunately, we don’t offer camping at the Festival grounds. The Shawano area has many fine motels, campgrounds and B&B’s. You can get information about them from the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce at shawanocountry.com

What about food?

Local food vendors offer a wide variety of freshly made and reasonably priced goodies for you to eat at the festival grounds, including soups, sandwiches, burgers and brats and sweet treats. Shawano also has many good restaurants.

Can I bring my dog?

The Festival is held in Mielke Park, a Shawano County Park, so County dog rules apply (all dogs must be leashed, and under control at all times, and you must clean up after your dog.) Well-behaved dogs that do well in crowds are welcome. However, if a dog causes problems of any kind, we will ask the dog’s owner to make other arrangements.

Should I bring my own chair?

We have chairs in place at all our stages, and picnic tables scattered throughout the Park. You don’t have to bring your own, unless you really want to.

Are the Festival grounds accessible to wheelchairs?

Some of the footpaths are a little rough, but wheelchairs can make their way through the park without problem. Mielke Arts Center, where the evening concerts are held, is fully wheelchair accessible. If you need special parking arrangements because of a physical condition, let the people at the gates know, and they’ll direct you to the staff parking area.

What about parking?

There is a small parking lot on Airport Road. When that’s full, find parking on the roads around the Park (but watch for “no parking” signs on Airport Rd.). There is parking inside the grounds for performers, staff and those with special needs.

Who are the festival volunteers?

They’re people from Shawano and other communities across Wisconsin. They’re 8-80 years old, teachers, business people, artists, musicians, social workers, salesmen, nurses, retired people, students, technicians, parents, grandparents, and sportsmen. Some have been festival volunteers since 1979 – others since last year. Some work on the Festival all year, others for a few hours Festival weekend.

And what do the volunteers do?

Volunteers choose performers for the festival, plan the weekend, sell ads and tickets, find crafters and food vendors, make quilts, set up stages and take them down, sell CD’s, house performers, cook, clean, plan and supervise children’s projects, and do everything else that needs doing. There’s a place in the festival you, no matter what your skills, experience or interest. Most of the planning is done at monthly meetings throughout the year.