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The "Shade Tree Musicians" at the Little Mountain Folk Festival, 1997
The "Shade Tree Musicians," Little Mountain Folk Festival, 1997 Photo: Margaret Noga

Little Mountain Folk Festival

First held in 1985, this annual festival which highlights traditional crafts and music is sponsored by the Lake County Historical Society. When the society moved to its Shadybrook location in 1984 from Lawnfield, the home of President James A. Garfield, it decided to hold a festival as a fundraiser to raise awareness about the society and its goals. That year the society actually sponsored two festivals: a Fall Heritage Festival, which focused on crafts, and a Traditional Music Festival. The following year, the society combined the festivals into the Little Mountain Festival.

At the first Little Mountain Folk Festival, sixty-seven crafters showcased diverse skills as basketry, duck decoy carving, pottery making, bentwood rocking chair making, beeswax candle making, Ukranian Easter eggs making, and scrimshaw. Among the musical acts that played for 14 full hours were folk singer Dick Swain and the Maple Hills Rounders. More than 10,000 people came to the festival, held in the wooded surroundings of the Lake County History Center, and the society raised more than $6,000.

As the July festival has grown, the array of crafters has expanded to include spinning and weaving, shoemaking, blacksmithing, chair caning, and rug making. Musical offerings have grown to include Celtic, Slovenian, Gospel and bluegrass, and a pioneer re-enactment has been part of the festival's attractions. A festival tradition is audience participation in music. Festival goers who bring musical instruments are given free admission. For many festival goers, the best part of the festival is the opportunity to join the "Shade Tree Musicians," who congregate under one of the stately old maples on festival grounds for impromptu jam sessions. Festival fare offers the typical hamburgers and hot dogs, but also bratwurst, potato pancakes, sweet potato pie, and pierogis.

In 1998, the two-day festival raised more than $48,000 for the Lake County Historical Society. By 1999 the festival has grown to 110 crafts and 48 hours of music, performed on eight stages, which included barbershop harmony singing, klezmer, Latin American music from the Andes, and gospel.

Documentation includes a legacy report photographs and a video.

Originally submitted by: Steve C. LaTourette, Representative (19th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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