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It's Folk Fest weekend!
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It Mother’s Day weekend and around here that means not only is it time to give mom some recognition, it’s also time to put on your dancing shoes and head into town for the Gays Mills Folk Festival of Music and Dance.

The festival kicks off it’s 21-year run with a Friday night square dance, followed by a day of family activities and musical workshops, and culminates in a Saturday evening concert featuring three bands and a pair of musical Masters of Ceremonies—Sarah and Clancy, from the Low Bridge, all the way from Port Wing on Lake Superior’s chilly south shore.

The Saturday evening concert begins at 7:30 in the old Gays Mills Community Building at 202 Main Street. The Twin Cities’ Cactus Blossoms open the show. Frontmen are brothers, Page Burkum and Jack Torrey. The two croon a country style that hearkens to what was heard in the 40s and 50s, complete with finger-picking, steel guitars, fiddles, twang, and soaring vocal harmonies.

Another Twin Cities band, the Hula Peppers, follows the Cactus Blossoms. The band specializes in swing, blues and novelty tunes from the 1920’s and 30’s. Band members are Dan ‘Daddy Squeeze’ Newton on accordion, Gary Powell on Hawaiian guitar, David Furniss on resonator guitar and Corey Mohan on ukuleles and musical saw.

Headlining the show are the Petticoat Rustlers, an all female string band from Minneapolis, complete with clogging. Inspired by North American folk traditions, Julie Young, Shawn Glidden, Sarah King, and Rina Rossi spin archaic rhythms into novel clogging choreography, propelled by the driving hoedown tunes of Anabel Wirt and Nikki Gunther. And, they all sing while they’re at it. You’ll hear banjos, guitars, fiddles, ukeleles, and lots of clogging feet!

For those who want to be on hand for the festival kickoff, the opening square dance will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 10 at 202 Main Street. The dance is for people of all ages and abilities, with a live caller to teach each dance before it begins.

Saturday activities start at noon in the park next to the river. Activities include an open stage, music workshops, dancing (complete with a Maypole), and a fiddle bee. Also, there will be a special concert at 1 p.m. by Low Bridge.

Moreover, you don’t have to worry about missing church because there will be a Gospel Sing on the banks of the Kickapoo River. Shall we gather at the river? Yes, we shall at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Be sure to check out the other fun events happening in Gays Mills this weekend including an antique tractor pull, the Little Britches Rodeo, Saturday Chili supper at the Kickapoo Exchange Natural Foods Co-op, and Sunday morning Pancake Breakfast hosted by the Ocooch Mountain Rescue and Gays Mills First Responders at their new building on the north end of town.

Ticket prices for the Gays Mills Folk Festival are $20 for a weekend pass, or $45 for a family. Tickets are also available for individual events. More information may be obtained by visiting our website at or by calling 608-606-4809 or 608-735-4031.

The Gays Mills Folk Festival is a project of the Kickapoo Cultural Exchange.