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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of August 7 - 13, 2002


Folk Festival 
top notch, friendly

Express Staff Writer

"High quality low impact," said a visitor from Montana when describing the 25th Annual Northern Rockies Folk Festival last weekend. Maintaining its family friendly feel, the folk festival continues to entertain with quality performances at Hop Porter Park in Hailey.

Cody Braun on mandolin and Willy Braun on electric guitar of Reckless Kelly charmed the audience with a rockin’ set on Friday night at the folk festival. Express photo by Willy Cook

Both afternoon and evening shows were more widely attended than ever before. Early estimates have attendance at 4,000 festival-goers. Children, of which there were many, and senior citizens were allowed in free, and therefore not counted.

One hundred sterling silver medallions made by Christopher & Co. nearly sold out. And the remainder—about nine of the keepsakes—are spoken for.

There were seven non-commercial food tents run by valley organizations, including those sponsored by Bald Mountain Rugby Club, Black Jack Shoot-Out Gang, Lutheran Church, Middle School Athletics, Blaine County Senior Connection, Nordic Ski Club, and Foursquare Church.

Members of some bands watched others play, which was gratifying, said Stacy McLaughlin, the secretary treasurer for the NRFF board.

The towering front man of Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Benson, plays with signature style at the 25th Annual Northern Rockies Folk Festival. Express photo by Willy Cook

In fact, The Knights, who hail from Meridian, actually called and asked to play. They stayed the whole weekend even after their set was played.

"All the bands said they really liked the people and the community—friendly and really nice. They felt we took care of them really well," said McLaughlin.

Some of the memorable Folk Festivals doings included a group of teenagers line dancing to Asleep at the Wheel; a tube topped girl dancing on the stage and then diving into crowd during Reckless Kelly, Friday night; Muzzie Braun slapping his legs in time with the music while he sang with his boys, loving every second; Reckless Kelly going psychedelic to close their spectacular performance on Friday with "Whole Lotta Love"; the vintage dressed Heidi Andrade clogging during the excellent performance by the Reeltime Travelers on Saturday, and, most especially, the Grammy Award winning Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel just by being there and still playing grand tunes.

The crowd at the Northern Rockies Folk Festival brought picnics, kids, chairs, wagons and good company as they enjoyed the mild temperatures and great tunes. Express photo by Willy Cook

With the 6’7" leader of the band, Ray Benson, holding a guitar that looked like a child’s toy in his huge hands, Asleep at the Wheel played classic tunes that included "ChoChoCh’Boogie," "Miles and Miles of Texas," "House of Blue Lights," "Take Me Back to Tulsa," "Blues Stay Away From Me," and "Across the Alley from the Alamo."

Though the band has been swinging for over 29 years and has had 80 different members over the years, Benson still reigns supreme.

A quarter century ago grass roots efforts by folk loving folks started the Hailey festival. The same folks—Kit Neraas, Pete Kramer, Maryann Mix—are still there, manning the gates, introducing the bands, and enjoying the results of their commitments. And not much has changed other than the number of people who now enjoy those efforts.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.