Old Wadena Rendezvous, Folklife Festival set
This weekend on a scenic bluff overlooking the Crow Wing River, the sights, sounds and smells of a bygone era will once again come to life during the Old Wadena Rendezvous and Folklife Festival.
Held annually for the past 25 years at the Old Wadena County park just north of Staples, the event features a mix of re-enactors staging an authentic gathering of trappers or muzzle-loading “buck skinners” along with folk music and demonstrations of folk arts, including a blacksmith, wreath mkaing and rope braiding.
This year’s entertainment lineup includes one or two first time appearances and several of the favorites from past years. Headlining the Old Wadena stage this year are John Gorka on Saturday and on Sunday both Brian Wicklund and The Barley Jacks along with annual favorites Curtis and Loretta. As usual, everyone will be under tents in case of inclement weather.
Gorka is one of the top folk and bluegrass singer songwriters in Minnesota. Rolling Stone magazine called him “the preeminent male singer-songwriter of the New Folk Movement.” A prolific song writer, he has 13 albums and counting to his credit.
Back after a very favorable reception last year is Margo McCreary and the On-Time Puppet Show. The show is filled with “up to the minute fun for family audiences, puppets, clowning and music....”
Others on the Old Wadena stage Saturday will include Dave Virnala, Leane Flynn and Caitlin Robertson. All feature a mix of original songs along with traditional country and bluegrass favorites.
Each morning will begin with an hour-long concert of traditional Ojibwe flute music from Jake Kaehne, filling the grounds with beautiful background tones.
On Sunday, Curtis and Loretta’s first set starts a schedule sure to have something for the entire family. They will sing from their newest album “When There is Good to be Done,” a series of stories of Minnesotans who have gone through great challenges. Examples include a survivor of the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis and a Mayo Clinic nurse who grew up in a small primitive village in Somalia.
The Barley Jacks, a foursome offering fiddle, guitar, bass and drum, feature both original vocals and a mix of traditional bluegrass, Celtic, R and B and Bebop. According to one critic, “If you can sit there and listen to these guys without smiling and tapping your toe, you better check your pulse.”
Closing out Sunday afternoon with another hour of stories and music will be a second set by Curtis and Loretta. Check the Old Wadena website, www.oldwadenarendezvous.org for more on these performers.
New this year for those coming to the Rendezvous will be free bus rides by the Wadena County Friendly Rider bus service on both Saturday and Sunday. Starting at 10 a.m., anyone in Staples can have a bus pick them up by calling 218-631-5730. In Wadena, pickups will be on the hour at the Humphrey Manor and the Wadena Depot (with ample parking available). Return rides to either Staples or Wadena will be made every half hour starting at 10:30 a.m.
Wadena County native Dick Oehlenschlager, an assistant curator at the Minnesota Science Museum in St. Paul, will be offering guided tours with interesting information about the biology of Wadena County at three different times each day.
There will be opportunities for kids to participate in making a birdhouse to take home, playing games from the 1800s with the Crow Wing Muzzleloaders members, and run after candy from their Candy Cannon.
Admission for adults is good for both days. Kids 12 and under are free. There will be a maximum admission for family. The Rendezvous and Folk Festival is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
Old Wadena Park is situated on the banks of the Crow Wing River. The park is north and west of Staples and north and east of the city of Wadena.
Directions: From Staples, take either the new overpass road (County Road 21) from Highway 10 north; or take 4th Street north and turn left at Warner Road. At the Central Lakes College corner, turn left on Wadena County Road 2. Go west two miles to County Road 29. Turn right and go 2.5 miles. Turn right on 140th St. (gravel road). Go ½ mile to park entrance.
From Wadena, go east on U.S. 10 to Aldrich. Continue past Aldrich and turn left on Wadena County Road 26. At County Road 2, go right approximately three miles. At County Road 29, turn left. Go 2.5 miles to 140th St. Turn right on 140th St, ½ mile to park entrance.