Door County Folk Festival
Get Your Foot In The Door!
Sister Bay, Ephraim & Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin
Tel: (847)-846-8139, (773)-634-9381 -

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Door County Compass - May 31, 2003Door County Compass
Staff Report

26th Annual Door County Folk Festival
July 8-11, 2003
May 31, 2003
Staff Report

The Door County Folk Festival (DCFF ) is one of the most fun-filled, enjoyable and educational dance weekends held in the Midwest. Each year, the DCFF attracts between 250 and 300 participants to Door County, Wisconsin, from all around the U.S., Canada and often other countries.

The DCFF was originated 24 years ago by Gerhard Bernhard, a Door County musician and entreprenuer who operates Handverks Music & Harp Center and Sunset Concert Cruises. After retiring from a business career in the printing industry in Chicago, he began to spend the spring and summer months in Door County, where he fostered his interest in the arts and crafts. After making Door County his permanent residence, Gerhard began to explore ethnic music and dance, playing, making and selling unusual musical instruments. In 1980 he asked Paul Collins to help him produce the first two festivals. Two years later they became equal partners and transformed the festival into one of Midwest's most popular dance and music weekends.This year's Festival begins on Thursday, July 10, and runs through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The 26th Annual Door County Folk Festival continues a tradition of enjoyable, extended July weekends where you can dance (late into the night), sing, play, learn, share experiences, eat, party and make new friends in a congenial, relaxed, community atmosphere. DCFF is staffed by some of the best leaders, teachers and callers in the Greater Midwest from areas including Chicago, Milwaukee, Racine, Eau Claire, Madison, Green Bay, Minneapolis/St Paul, Winona, Marquette, South Bend, Winnipeg and St Louis.

The festival also features musicians and orchestras from around the Midwest and occasionally invites guests from the east and west coasts. There are a variety of learning opportunities in 16 dance workshops for both new and experienced dancers. There are also music workshops where participants share repertoire, give and receive positive feedback and possibly focus on ensemble work for a "Festival Band" which may play a set at Saturday Night's party. In addition, there are Balkan singing workshops and Contra/Square Dance workshops with live music.

Each night features great parties with live and recorded music in the Sister Bay Village Hall. Thursday's party features introductory workshops and requests led by various regional leaders. Friday's and Saturday's Ethnic Dance parties feature dancing to live music and dance-throughs of selected workshop dances. Saturday's party also features the "Larry Hoey Memorial Folk Dance Olympics" where groups and/or individuals get to show off and strut their stuff in a friendly and fun "competition".

Saturday's party runs late (1998: 21 night owls til 6:50am and 1999: 23 night owls til 7:05am) and culminates with breakfast at Al Johnson's Restaurant (the one with the "Goats on the Roof") just before the Sunday Morning Contra/Square Dance Session begins. The Fesitval continues to offer alternative parallel events at Ephraim Village Hall including a Friday Night Contra/Square Dance Party and a New Event, a Saturday Night Music Concert at Ephraim. The attendance continues to grow at Sunday's survivors' party at Sister Bay, the final party that tends toward the anarchistic where dancers take responsibility for running the program and lots of stuff just happens spontaneously, without any of the "traditional" leadership and management of the group.

On Friday and Saturday during lunch, in Sister Bay Waterfront Park, group leaders, callers, teachers and any other interested parties can network, share experiences and exchange ideas at these leader discussion forums, facilitated by members of the staff. There are lunchtime dance and stress relief sessions for individuals and groups featuring Swedish, Myofascia, Energy and Lymphatic massage work.

Enjoy a group dinner at a local popular restaurant, a traditional Door County Fish Boil Dinner in Sister Bay Waterfront Park, followed by dancing and music in the Park and on the Village Pier. There are also free children's activities on Friday and Saturday morning and afternoon, including crafts, story telling, sing-alongs, creative games and dancing.

There is also a Silent Auction of donated ethnic or dance-related items. Benefits go to support the scholarship fund. The DCFF runs like clockwork because of a well-managed and highly competent work-scholarship team. The Festival requires the equivalent of twelve (12) full-time scholarship workers. Scholarships are awarded on a first come-first served basis. If you want more information about work scholarships or are ready, willing and able to make a commitment, please contact: Chris Alfeld: . Please, note: work scholarship team positions for 2004 are still available!

As in previous years, DCFF participants who need lodging may book overnight motel accommodations through DCFF for dates before, during or after the Festival. Local residents or participants who make their own housing arrangements may purchase weekend or daily passes or may attend Festival events a la carte.

For more information check out the Door County Folk Festival Website.