The Gebhard Woods Dulcimer & Traditional Music Festival had big plans this year for its 25th anniversary, but due to flood damage at Gebhard Woods State Park, the festival is being canceled this year.
“It was supposed to be our 25th festival, so in addition to the normal setup, we had a few extra arrangements that we will end up doing next year now. It’s very sad,” said Steve Karlovsky, member of the Dulcimer Festival Board of Directors.
“We are looking forward to next year,” he said.
The April 18 flood caused a lot of damage at Gebhard Woods. The office building, where the festival’s performers gather and supplies are held, flooded, which damaged the floor and walls, said Mayor Richard Kopczick.
In addition, work being done in the office and at the park to make it ADA compliant was put behind due to the flooding.
Inside the office, a bathroom was being expanded to follow ADA regulations, as well as sidewalks being added in the park. All of which would now not have been able to be completed before the annual dulcimer festival, originally scheduled for June 8 and 9.
In addition to the construction projects being delayed, Karlovsky said he was told that, due to the aqueduct collapsing, the I&M Canal by the park is drained and, therefore, so are the park’s ponds.
Repairs are under way on the draining issues.
The flooding in the park also caused debris from the creek to stick to the grounds, which will tear up the park’s landscape once cleaned up. The park’s electric was also all under water during the flooding.
“It was just such a long list of things,” said Karlovsky.
The board officially canceled the event May 10. Last year’s festival had almost 1,000 attendees. The only other time the festival has not gone on was in 2010, when it took the year off to do some fundraising.
“All of us on the board of HANDS (Hammers and Noters Dulcimer Society of Illinois) and the festival committee who have put so much time and energy into the planning of this event are deeply disappointed,” the board states in a message on their website, gebharddulcimer.org.
“We had assembled top notch lineups of stage performances and workshop opportunities, and made special preparations around our milestone anniversary. Nonetheless, we are where we are. Year after year, our festival is so greatly enhanced by the natural beauty of Gebhard Woods, but in the end, the elements remain beyond anyone’s control.”
The festival and the city of Morris tried to find another location, but it could not be. Karlovsky said other parks are also suffering from flooding and Morris Community High School was not available due to the Fireman’s Carnival setting up that Sunday.
“There is nothing of the size they need to be able to have it, and with that ambiance that type of program has. Gebhard Woods just has the perfect location,” said Kopczick.
Gebhard Woods will be back in shape by next year though.
“We’re looking forward to having them back,” said the mayor.
Dulcimer Festival celebrates music from all stringed wooden instruments, but is named after dulcimer.
There are two types of dulcimers. One is the mountain dulcimer, which is a hand-held stringed wooden instrument that is plucked to produce the notes. The other is the hammered dulcimer, which usually is larger and trapezoid-shaped and rests on legs on the ground while the musician plays it by striking the strings with little mallets.
For more information on Gebhard Woods’ Dulcimer Festival visit gebharddulcimer.org.