Springville, Utah seems like an unlikely place for what is now one of the largest festivals of folk dance and music in the United States. But after more than 20 years of rigorous work that is exactly what the Springville World Folkfest has become. Hundreds of dancers and musicians from more than forty-five countries have performed, thousands of spectators have watched and cheered them on, and an outdoor amphitheatre has risen to become a state-of-the-art facility specifically designed to accommodate folk dancing.
This exceptional celebration was born during a meeting in January of 1986 of individuals who hoped to create a folk festival in Springville. Others agreed that celebrations are indeed fun things and what better kind of celebration than one of the unique cultures around the world?
This is where the rigorous work began. Scores of dancers needed to be housed, fed, and transported-sometimes without the ability to communicate in English. Fortunately, Springville’s City Council had faith in the project and supplied some financial support, volunteers sprung up and dedicated thousands of hours to the festival, and local residents opened their homes and hearts to the performers as host families. A wooden stage was erected for the Folkfest over home plate in a baseball field northwest of Springville High School-and the tradition commenced! The first Springville World Folkfest was presented the August of 1986.
During subsequent years, the Folkfest was held on stages built on the Springville High School football and soccer fields before a new venue became available. The Spring Acres Arts Park, an area northeast of Springville High School naturally sheltered by a hill and mature trees on one side and named for springs that welled up out of the ground, was developed into an outdoor amphitheatre by Springville City. A concrete stage designed specifically for the needs of the Folkfest was erected at the Arts Park and the Folkfest began using the park as its permanent home in 1991.
Exciting improvements have been made to the Arts Park each year since then. Towering poles with specialized lighting and sound equipment added color and intensity to the show. Rain is no issue for the performers now that a large canopy has been erected over the stage. Buried sound cables and permanently installed sound equipment made it so the intricate music could be well heard. Bleacher seating and well-groomed grounds have created a comfortable, beautiful setting for the celebration. Most recently, a permanent sound booth was constructed as well as a new building housing restrooms (yep, we‘ve got them), a ticket booth and first aid areas.
Not only is there an awakening of past cultures on the main stage, but there is also an impelling connection of cultures backstage. Hundreds of local families who have volunteered to house the different dancers and musicians have created lasting friendships. Some performers have even returned years later to visit their host families, and some families have traveled to other countries and stayed in their visitors’ homes.
And that is exactly what the Springville World Folkfest is all about (other than having a ridiculously good time)! Fostering love and understanding among peoples of all lands and cultures. So why not come celebrate with us and foster some love?