National Folk Festival brings Seldom Scene to Montana July 11-13

Montana will host the 70th National Folk Festival on July 11-13 in Butte. In 2009 and 2010 the festival will also be held in Butte on the second weekend of July.

This is the first time the National Folk Festival has been hosted west of the Mississippi River in decades and the first time ever the festival has been hosted in Montana.

The National Folk Festival is the oldest multi-cultural festival of traditional arts in the nation. From the beginning, admission to the event has been free of charge to everyone and this year’s festival will be no exception. The National has been produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (see in 26 different cities since 1934. The free three-day festival celebrates the music, dance, food and culture drawn from the heritage of the many immigrant groups that have helped settle America. Now in its 70th year, the National is a traveling festival produced in partnership with different communities around the country. The three-year stay in each host city is intended to lay the groundwork for locally produced festivals and events that continue after the National moves on. From 2005 to 2007, the National was hosted in Richmond, Virginia and that event will go on in October 2008 as the Richmond Folk Festival (see Three years before that, the festival was held in Bangor, Maine and that event too continues as the American Folk Festival (see Over the years, musicians and craftspeople from every state in the Union and most U.S. territories have participated in this "moveable feast of deeply traditional folk arts." Presented to audiences free of charge over three days, National Folk Festivals since 1987 have attracted audiences of 100,000 or more. Efforts are now underway to bring the highest level of talent and quality of performances that are the trademark of the National to Montana audiences.

Seven StagesThe Montana festival will feature seven stages that will host up to 250 of the finest performers of the musical influences of immigrants from around the world, performing in the traditions of Celtic, Blues, Western Swing, Zydeco, French Canadian, Cajun, Mariachi, Bluegrass, Reggae, Marimba, Klezmer, Polka, Tamburitza and many other musical styles that have influenced the cultural development of our people. These musicians and dancers will perform at the main ampitheatre stage which is being developed on the site of the Original Mineyard, a historic headframe (see that is a remnant of Butte’s days as an underground copper mining center. A second stage, the Big Top Stage will be located at the intersection of Broadway and Main in the heart of the largest historic district in America that will also feature top musical acts surrounded by tall historic buildings from Butte’s heyday as a cosmopolitan outpost on America’s urban frontier.

A third stage will be featured at the Dance Pavilion on East Park Street with live music and a dance floor dedicated to participatory dancing.

Festival Performers Announced

So far, festival organizers have announced 13 performers who are booked for the free outdoor festival in Butte July 11-13.

* Shemekia Copeland (blues) –
* Wylie and the Wild West (western) –
* The Seldom Scene (bluegrass) —
* Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca (Congolese/Cuban) –
* The Oinkari Basque Dancers (traditional Basque dancing and music) –
* Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas (zydeco) –
* The Quebe Sisters Band (
Texas fiddling and harmony singing) –
* Clinton Fearon (Jamaican Reggae) –
* Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu (Chinese rod puppetry) –
* Le Vent Du Nord (Quebecois music) –
* Alex Meixner Band (Polka) –
* Grace Chang (Chinese zither)
* The Bernstons (Norwegian American)
* Yuri Yakunov Ensemble (Bulgarian Wedding Music)

These artists are only half of the approximately 25 that will take to the stages at the 70th National Folk Festival in Butte. In all, over 250 musicians, dancers and craftspeople will participate demonstrate, exhibit and perform.

Each National Folk Festival host city celebrates its own regional traditions and heritage. The festival will shine the spotlight on the distinctive occupational, craft and tribal traditions of the region ‚Äì from cowboy and ranching culture to fly fishing, from social/celebratory performance and craft traditions of the Montana’s American Indian tribes to the rich mining, ethnic and labor heritage of Butte and the Copperway ‚Äì that are the heart of that heritage.

Montana Folklife Demonstrations

The National will feature a fourth stage at the Montana Folklife Area where Montana folklife demonstrations will be held with recognized masters and apprentices of traditional crafts sharing their skills from throughout Montana and the region. These traditional art demonstrators will be invited as honored guests to describe and show how they do their work to the festival audience in a separate area known as the Montana Folklife Area professionally curated by folk arts experts from Montana and from the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

Family Area A fifth stage will be located in The Family Area. The family area will feature a stage for ongoing performances and a range of hands-on activities for children including games, crafts, displays, and performances that educate them about the importance of traditional arts in their world.Two other stages will also host musical performances during the three-day festival at the Frank Little Area on East Quartz Street and a stage area on East Broadway.

Montana Arts Marketplace and First Peoples’ Marketplace

The Montana festival will host up to 50 traditional artists and craft vendors from far and wide showcased in the Montana Arts Marketplace ( and an adjacent First Peoples’ Marketplace that features Native American crafters. The First Peoples’ Marketplace will be a unique feature of the National Folk Festival in Montana. The First Peoples’ Marketplace is made possible by the sponsorship of Seacast, Inc., ( a Seattle-based corporation with a $25,000 sponsorship of the First Peoples’ Marketplace.

Food and Drink Vendors

Up to 25 ethnic and festival food vendors will serve everything from funnel cakes to Indian fry bread and tacos to kettle corn to Serbian Sarma and Povitica to fresh squeezed lemonade to Cornish pasties. About 85 percent of the food vendors will serve ethnic food representing the cuisine of natives and immigrants to the region and 15 percent will represent what people might expect from any festival, fun sweet food that can be carried from venue to venue and devoured between sets. To see who will be serving up the food at the 70th National Folk Festival visit

Free AdmissionAdmission throughout the three-day event is free to everyone.

Festival Music Sales Throughout the festival there will be opportunities to purchase the recorded music of the artists who perform who will be available as well to sign their CDs by the stages after their performances and also in booths dedicated to CD sales.

Festival Merchandise At assigned booths, festival goers can purchase a range of festival merchandise to carry the National home when they leave the festival.

Information Booths Strategically placed booths will be available for directions and answers to all questions. Try to stump the volunteers with any questions you can think of about the festival, the community of Butte and the state of Montana.

Beer and Wine SalesBeer and wine will be available for sale at special booths and beer gardens.

Volunteer RegistrationVolunteers who have signed up in advance can check in at the volunteer registration booth to get their assignments Festival organizers are still looking for about 500 volunteers who are interested in helping out with a wide range of tasks needed to make the festival a success. Anyone interested can easily sign up on the web site at the following location:, just click on SIGN UP NOW to be taken to an online form that will automatically add you to our database of volunteers.

About Montana and Butte

Being selected as the host city for the National Folk Festival is the most recent reason why Butte is becoming known as Montana’s Festival City.

Located between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks at the crossroads of two major Interstate highways, I-15 and I-90, Butte’s festival season comes early in February with the world’s loudest and shortest Chinese New Year parade (see In March, Butte hosts one of the nation’s most famous St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. And
Butte becomes home to the nation’s top motor daredevils, who wow large crowds during the last weekend of July for the annual Evel Knievel Days ( celebration of the iconic daredevil’s home town.

On the second weekend of August, the Montana Irish Festival ( brings thousands to celebrate the state’s Celtic heritage including top notch musical performances from Celtic musical performers each year. For the latest details, visit, send email to or call 406-497-6464.