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Great Lakes Folk Festival set to serenade East Lansing

August 8, 2012
In this photo from Aug. 12, 2011, Lansing residents Katarina, 9, and Tamiko Rothhorn dance with Mason residents Tom and Marla Warren 
at the Great Lakes Folk Festival. Festival attendees could participate in a variety of dances throughout the day at the Dance Stage. State News File Photo
In this photo from Aug. 12, 2011, Lansing residents Katarina, 9, and Tamiko Rothhorn dance with Mason residents Tom and Marla Warren at the Great Lakes Folk Festival. Festival attendees could participate in a variety of dances throughout the day at the Dance Stage. State News File Photo —
Photo by State News File Photo | and State News file photo and State News file photo The State News

Those who are in search of a single place in which they can sample a wide range of live music from throughout the world should look no further than the streets of downtown East Lansing this weekend.

The 11th annual Great Lakes Folk Festival — a celebration of culture, tradition and community — is scheduled to take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday along Abbot Road and Albert Avenue.

“Our goal is to help people appreciate the cultural diversity we have all around us, to realize it, to celebrate it and also to perpetuate it,” said Kurt Dewhurst, the festival’s founding director.

A variety of musical genres will be represented at the festival, including Piedmont blues, polka, bluegrass and Celtic. Performers come from near and far, and this year’s lineup — just like every one before it — is made up entirely of artists who have never played the event before.

“It’s quite a range of performances and performers,” Dewhurst said. “One of the great things about the festival is (that) for many people, they might know one or two of those genres, but it’s a great chance to learn musical traditions from around the world.”

Denny Anderson, frontman for Denny Anderson & The International Main Street Polka Band, promises to provide his audience members with an original and engaging musical experience.

“We’ll bring some unique entertainment that’s not commonly heard in the area,” he said. “We try to get people to join in, and we do some polka that people will most of the time know. They can sing along and feel part of the entertainment.”

Anderson and his bandmates are scheduled to play their Cleveland-style polka tunes, which incorporate various instruments including an accordion, a banjo, a saxophone and drums, three times during the course of the weekend, beginning Friday night.

In addition to performing at the festival, Anderson said he is excited to take in the diverse sounds of the rest of the featured artists.

“I think it’s an outstanding event,” he said. “They have different styles and genres of music to be offered to people. All of the different groups, they’re so varied that I’m looking forward to hearing some of the other groups as well.”

While the festival is focused heavily on the music it brings to the community, folk tunes are not the only form of entertainment the event has to offer attendees.

“The festival is more than music, but music is certainly at the heart of the event,” Dewhurst said.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act — legislation that provided funding for land-grant colleges including MSU and Penn State University, among others — a Campus and Community program will be implemented at this year’s festival and feature a number of workshops, talk sessions and cooking demonstrations.

Ron Perry, a professor in the Department of Horticulture, is one of several people scheduled to give a demonstration in the festival’s test-kitchen area.

Perry will teach a food and wine pairing workshop in which attendees will learn about various Michigan wines and what foods go best with them.

Because Perry has never been to the Great Lakes Folk Festival, he said he is unsure of how his lesson will be received, but he is excited to be involved with the event nonetheless.

“I don’t know how many people will get to the workshop, but I’ll give it a try and see how it goes,” he said.

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