Folk festival to kick off Friday

Put on your bonnet and jump in your wagon, it’s time for the Gen. Sam Houston Folk Festival. The 16th Annual Gen. Sam Houston Folk Festival will be held May 2-4 on the grounds of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum Complex on Sam Houston Avenue across from campus.

The 15-acre park will be grounds for numerous activities, arts and crafts, live music and cultural displays.

“The festival is a combination of entertainment and education,” said Patrick Nolan, director of the Sam Houston Museum and member of the festival committee.

Nolan said the festival will include children’s activities such as storytellers, a petting zoo and children’s arts and crafts.

“On Friday, 4,082 fourth grade students from around the region are expected to attend the festival,” Nolan said.

Several costumed historical characters will also be performing around the festival grounds.

This year, Felix Almaraz from the University of Texas San Antonio will play the role of Gen. Sam Houston and perform a historical dialogue at 2 p.m. Saturday. Davy Crockett, performed by Bill Rush, will be at the festival all three days.

This year’s festival will feature live theatre with the historical production “Gone to Texas”. There will also be historical re-enactments, museum tours and folk dancers.

Throughout the weekend there will be several folk life demonstrations such as broom makers, wood carvers, blacksmiths and soap makers. All crafts and demonstrations will end at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and will run through the closing of the festival on Sunday.

Live music will be played on the Texas Stage from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

This year’s lineup will include nine bands playing a variety of folk and country music as well as jazz, Americana and bluegrass.

The bands schedules to play include Shorty Long, a four-piece string band from Austin, The Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show and the Sweet Song String Band. Back at the Ranch, formerly Clover and Rachel Carroll, will also play the festival.

Back at the Ranch is an acoustic country-roots group that mixes styles of western swing, traditional country, bluegrass and cowboy yodeling tunes with comedy and flair of Vaudevillian theatre. Other bands include Pine Island Station, Farm Couple, Ben Bell from Austin and Wilders from Kansas City, Mo.

Brennen Leigh will also grace the Texas Stage this weekend. Nominated for “‘My Texas Music’ Female Vocalist of the Year” in 2003, she and sibling Seth Hulbert perform an eclectic mix of Americana roots music.

There will be plenty of food and drink booths at the festival. A variety of ethnic foods such as Jamaican and Mexican will be available as well as festival favorites.

The festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets will be available at the festival entrances. The main entrance is located on 19th Street and another entrance will be behind Jackson Shaver dormitory.

Ticket prices are $3 for children five-13 years old and $7 for those 13 and over. Weekend passes are also available for $10. A group rate of $3 per person is available for groups of 15 and over.

There will be free parking at 20th Street and Sam Houston Avenue in the university parking lot. A free shuttle will be provided to the festival entrance on 19th Street and on Saturday the shuttle will also run downtown to the Airing of the Quilts.

There will be signs posted directing traffic to various parking lots throughout the weekend. No pets or outside food or drinks will be allowed on the festival grounds.

The Gen. Sam Houston Folk Festival is a huge event and an honored Huntsville tradition.

“Last year around 15,000 people attended the festival throughout the weekend,” Nolan said.

Entergy, Cymetech and Wiesner are all sponsors of this year’s festival.

Get out of the house this weekend and enjoy some Texas culture while listening to live music, watching historical re-enactments and eating ethnic foods. The Gen. Sam Houston Folk Festival will provide entertainment for all ages and is sure to be a great time.

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