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Music fans fine-tune Geneva festival’s 37th year

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 11:35 p.m. CDT
(Jeff Krage for Shaw Media)
Murphy Roche Irish Music Club performs during Monday's Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva.

GENEVA – Folk singer  Amy Dixon-Kolar sang to a hushed crowd gathered under a tent by the Fox River in Geneva.

“The dancers are waltzing in the moonlight,” Dixon-Kolar sang. “Red sky morning. Sunrise comes. They’re still swaying to the music. ... 25 years, the dancing goes on.”

The 37th Annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival was in full swing on its second day Monday, with masses of people all over Geneva’s Island Park playing music or enjoying the sounds or the storytellers, barn dancers or crafts. 

Among them was a big, enthusiastic crowd gathered by Dixon-Kolar’s tent.

Dixon-Kolar said she wrote “Dancing Through the Storm” to honor her marriage, inspired by a storm that struck her family’s home in Maryland that destroyed trees and houses, but left standing a statue of dancers.

“I equated that to marriage,” Dixon-Kolar said. “There’s a lot of storms out there, but we made it 26 years. So I wrote [my husband] a waltz.”

Diane Wempie of West Chicago said she liked Dixon-Kolar so much she was thinking of asking the singer to perform at her wedding next year, when she will marry Andy Ryan of Naperville.

“She really touches the strings of my heart,” Wempie said. “She talked about being a couple and going through hard times and good times and marriage weathering the storms. ... Her song means so much, it would be lovely to have her sing at our wedding.”

The annual event is sponsored by the Fox Valley Folklore Society in cooperation with the Geneva Park District and the city of Geneva.

Festival volunteer Amie Fikar of Batavia said she estimated at least a few thousand people had come during the two days of the festival, Sunday and Monday. 

“The clouds keep shading us, keeping the temperature down. No mosquitoes – which is always good – and a great turnout,” Fikar said. “Some come and stay, some leave and come back for the barn dance and ghost stories at night. Got a little bit for everyone.”

Anne Kuntz of Elburn said she comes every year.

“I love being by the river,” Kuntz said. “I love hearing good live music, and I love all the diversity of things to do and see with my family.”

Russell Altersohn of Geneva brought his folk guitar along. 

“I like to listen to music and all the different folk musicians that come here every year,” Altersohn said. “I came with my friend. We brought our guitars. It’s easy. People come up and play and jam.”

Tommy Re, a fiddler who performs with the George Mattson Trio, said his group has performed for the folk fest for the past three years.

“We play old favorites. Honky tonk music, show music,” Re said.

But when they’re finished performing, he and his wife like to walk around the festival.

“I like to see the people, hear the music and learn new things,” Re said.

Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice’s booth were hawking peace signs, anti-war bumper stickers and inviting discussion of the U.S. possibly getting involved in Syria’s civil war.

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