Glendale Folk & Heritage Festival celebrates 30 Years

Tucson’s Official Troubadour, Ted Ramirez performed Saturday, March 2, on the Forman’s Porch, during Glendale’s two-day Folk & Heritage Festival, Sahuaro Ranch. Mr. Ramirez is a recipient of the prestigious Arizona Culture Keeper Award, which recognizes state residents who are committed to upholding the traditions, rituals and culture of Arizona. [Bette Sharpe/Special to Independent Newsmedia]

By Bette Sharpe
Special to Independent Newsmedia

Groups of musicians gathered and played while crowds gathered to listen. [Bette Sharpe/Special to Independent Newsmedia]
Glendale Folk & Heritage Festival celebrated 30 years of free folk music, its history and its culture, Saturday and Sunday March 2-3 at Sahuaro Ranch Park, 9802 N. 59th Ave.

The free event features more than 400 performers on five stages of folk and bluegrass music, along with live cowboy poetry and authentic storytelling throughout the weekend. In addition, three workshop areas will invite attendees to learn to play spoons, saws, ukuleles, harmonicas, swing guitar, penny whistle, jug band, skiffle music, autoharps and more.

A new feature at the festival this year was the Bookmans Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo,” a noisy and fun experience for all ages. From percussion to string instruments, Bookmans provides a space where children could experiment with multiple instruments in a relaxed environment, designed to foster music appreciation for all through this hands-on activity.

Two musicians participate in Saturday’s Tips and Tricks for Slide Guitar workshop with Eric Ramsey, two-time winner of the AZ Blues Showdown. The workshops were free and gave musicians an opportunity to learn or to jam. [Bette Sharpe/Special to Independent Newsmedia]
Glendale’s Folk and Heritage Festival attracts both local and regional visitors and performers. The spring event fosters an understanding and appreciation of traditional Arizona music and culture through experimental learning, performances and workshops that draw on our rich cultural heritage of ranching, mining and railroading.

Other highlights for children were free face painting and hands-on arts and crafts with artist Kristine Kolache. Arts and crafts are sponsored by the Glendale Public Arts Program.

The Glendale Folk & Heritage Festival is produced by the city of Glendale Public Facilities, Recreation & Special Events Department and sponsored by Bookmans, Shade’n Net, Knights of Columbus Council 3855, the Glendale Public Art Program and the Glendale Ambassadors.

How the festival began

Thirty years ago Lon Austin had a vision to create a free folk festival, open to all levels of players, borne out of his experience in San Francisco attending music jams at the house of folk singer Faith Petrics. Through his position as Parks and Recreation Coordinator in Phoenix, he created a festival at Encanto Park that was modeled on the festival that Warren Miller created in Prescott.

It has grown through the years, and is now held at the Sahuaro Ranch Park, in Glendale where Mr. Austin’s vision is kept alive. The music community throughout the state fostered by Mr. Austin continues in various events throughout the state, but the annual Folk & Heritage Festival is his crowning achievement.

Editor’s note: Bette Sharpe photographs and writes for

Barbara Giamalvo, left, sings and plays the autoharp with Jim Marchbanks on guitar. Ms. Giamalvo began the Autoharp Club and is a member of the Folk & Heritage committee. [Bette Sharpe/Special to Independent Newsmedia]
Saturday’s workshops included Tips and Tricks for Slide Guitar with Eric Ramsey, two-time winner of the AZ Blues Showdown. [Bette Sharpe/Special to Independent Newsmedia]

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