11 years later, Moab Folk Festival still remains true to its roots
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Oct 24, 2013 | 817 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Moab Folk Festival
Bayard Blain, Bernice Hembree and Bryan Hembree of 3 Penny Acre will bring their Ozark-inspired sound to the Moab Folk Festival. The band will perform Nov. 2 at noon at the Moab Ball Field. Courtesy photos
Bayard Blain, Bernice Hembree and Bryan Hembree of 3 Penny Acre will bring their Ozark-inspired sound to the Moab Folk Festival. The band will perform Nov. 2 at noon at the Moab Ball Field. Courtesy photos
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Austin-based folk musician Eliza Gilkyson will perform on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Moab Ball Field during the Moab Folk Festival.
Austin-based folk musician Eliza Gilkyson will perform on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Moab Ball Field during the Moab Folk Festival.
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The first weekend in November will see a transformation at the Center Street Ball Field. Instead of kids playing soccer or football, the fields will be filled with concertgoers listening to the strains of music floating across the park.

Nov. 1 marks the first day of the 11th Moab Folk Festival, an event that draws around 1,600 people to Moab each year. The festival continues through Nov. 3 with daytime and evening concerts at a variety of venues.

Festival founder Melissa Schmaedick started the festival in 2003, and though the event has grown in its eleven years, in some ways it has remained essentially unchanged.

“We have one part-time paid employee,” she said. The rest of the people working behind the scenes, running the sound and light boards and manning the tables are volunteers. Many of them have been volunteering since the festival started.

Schmaedick said she never intended for the festival to grow into a huge event.

“It’s approachable,” she said. “It’s less intimidating than bigger festivals.”

Because of the small, intimate atmosphere that both Moab and the MFF offer, Schmaedick said it’s not uncommon for people attending the concerts to find performers sitting next to them during another performance.

Schmaedick said the folk festival has struggled for a few years after seeing a sizeable drop in attendance in 2008. She said she’s hoping the numbers pick back up to 1,600 this year, and maybe as high as 1,800 next year.

That attendance figure of 1,600 is about the break-even point for the festival, she said, adding that she is hoping for a bit more growth in attendance so that the festival could add a few more activities.

“I’d really like to do more local activities,” she said. “But that takes time and money.”

This year’s lineup includes 12 artists, some of whom have played the festival in the past. Performers include David Lindley, Tom Russell, Eliza Gilkyson with special guest Nick Forster, the Steel Wheels, Elephant Revival, Gregory Alan Isakov, Marley’s Ghost, John Fullbright, the Parker Millsap Trio, 3 Penny Acre, and Moors & McCumber. Ellis, the Moab Folk Festival’s 2012 People’s Choice winner, will also return this season.

Tickets range in price from $35 for single concert admission, to $120 for a three-day pass. The pass includes admission to the evening concerts at either Star Hall or the Grand County High School Auditorium as well as entry to all concerts at the Moab Ball Field throughout the weekend. Tickets may be purchased online at www.moabfolkfestival.com, by calling the festival office at 435-259-3198, or at the Canyonlands Copy Center, 375 S. Main St., and Back of Beyond Bookstore, 83 N. Main St.

Concerts will begin Nov. 1 at Star Hall, 125 E. Center St., and the Grand County High School auditorium, 608 South 400 East.

Concerts will run through the weekend and will include daytime performances at the Center Street Ballpark at the corner of 200 East and Center Street in downtown Moab.

Late night jam sessions will be held after the evening performances on Friday and Saturday nights, Nov. 1 and 2, at Eddie McStiff’s, 57 S. Main St.

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