Spirit of the Woods Folk Festival
Back in 1978 some folk music lovers, spurred on by the success of barn dances and music potlucks in the area, decided to organize a little festival. The first Spirit of the Woods Folk Festival was held on June 17, 1978, in Brethren. It was a free event and featured Iowa Rose, Flatpicker's Local 169, Argo Pond, Dekalb, Dan Gellert, the Flatland Ramblers, Quality Quinn and the Lost World String Band.
We had a great day and we'll never forget crowding in under the gazebo and watching the Lost World String Band through a curtain of water as they bravely played on under the covered stage. What a beginning. The second festival was also at Brethren and featured Joel Mabus, Kitty Donahue, the Roustabout String Band, Gemini, and more. After that, the festival moved to the Onekama Fairgrounds for eight good years.
By 1987, the annual festival was a solid success, but burnout had set in. Budgets, crowds, ticket prices and planning had taken its toll. Not to be undaunted, and true to our credo (we're only in it for the fun), a bold idea was proposed: let's bring the festival back to Brethren and quit charging admission! Back to basics. Back to the park. Not as many hassles. And it worked. We're still at the park, years later.
Easy? No. It takes a lot of work, meetings, and volunteer time. Is it worth it? We think so. People come from near and far to grace our stages, listen to the music, and meet old friends, thanks to all the organizations, sponsors and individuals that make it possible.
Spirit of the Woods Music Association