MORRIS – The Gebhard Woods Dulcimer and Traditional Music Festival is back after a yearlong hiatus, but with one big change: it will not be held at Gebhard Woods.
For the first time in the event’s 25-year history, the festival is forgoing its namesake venue and will be held at Goold Park in Morris this year.
The flooding of April 2013 caused extensive damage to Gebhard Woods State Park, prompting the cancellation of last year’s festival and a change of venue this year.
“This is our first time ever in a new spot, so we’re a little nervous,” said Neal Peck, president of the Dulcimer Festival board. “We’re concerned about helping people find it, but we’re making signs and doing everything we can to make it easy to find.”
Peck said they chose Goold Park, which is located across from Morris Community High School’s parking lot, because it has roughly the same amount of space and was located within one mile of Gebhard.
“I think it will be a wonderful alternative,” Peck said.
This year’s event will span two days and feature more than 17 performers, with concerts and “jam sessions” happening every hour.
Peck said festival goers also can learn to play the dulcimer, ukulele, fiddle, autoharp and several other instruments at one of the event’s 75 workshops. The workshops range in level from beginner to advanced and will be taught by some of the featured performers.
Vendors will be on-site, selling handmade instruments crafted by master builders, as well as food and beverages.
“It’s a place where families can come and you can just relax in a wonderful music-filled environment,” Peck said.
Although unique to this area, dulcimer music events happen all across the country. The dulcimer is a popular folk instrument, “compatible with mandolin and guitar,” Peck said, that is often wooden and stringed. It can be played a variety of ways, but is commonly played by plucking or striking the strings with mallets.
“It’s just a wonderful folk instrument – very playable and very enjoyable to listen to,” Peck said.
The first dulcimer festival was organized in 1988 by a group of local musicians. Since then, the event has grown, attracting large crowds each year and dulcimer aficionados from across the country, Peck said.
“It’s always amazing to see how many states are represented at the Dulcimer Festival each year,” Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said.
Kopczick said the city approved the change of venues this year and is excited about the prospect of making Goold Park the festival’s temporary home.
“It’s right close to the downtown, so hopefully our downtown businesses will be afforded a benefit also,” Kopczick said.
Volunteers are still needed to help work and set up the festival, volunteer coordinator Joan Hau said.
“It takes a lot of people to put this together,” she said. “We can find jobs for anyone and everyone who can give an hour or two of their time.”
IF YOU GO
What: Gebhard Woods Dulcimer and Traditional Music Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 7 and 8
Where: Goold Park on Northern Avenue, Morris
To volunteer: Contact June Hau at email@example.com