The Gustavus band Tramwreck performs on the main stage in the ballroom at Centennial Hall during the opening night of the 49th annual Alaska Folk Festival on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

The Gustavus band Tramwreck performs on the main stage in the ballroom at Centennial Hall during the opening night of the 49th annual Alaska Folk Festival on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

49th annual Alaska Folk Festival celebrates a homecoming on opening night

Weeklong event will feature about 130 acts performing music, dances and workshops.

The opening night of the 49th annual Alaska Folk Festival on Monday was at heart a family homecoming, as musicians and listeners returned to Centennial Hall after a year’s absence while it was being renovated to hear old familiar voices and be introduced to new ones.

“This is such an amazing legacy this festival has as we’ve made ourselves into a family,” Grace Elliot, the host for the evening, told the audience midway through the evening of nearly four hours of music by 15 bands performing in 15-minute segments. “I don’t know how functional a family it is. But it’s a fun family and I appreciate that. You know we get together, we catch up, see the fresh babies, we find out who’s doing what, who moved where, who’s new and all that kind of stuff while we’re just having a good time listen to our friends and neighbors.”

Becca Antonoplos dances with her daughter, Mackovia Rohrbacher, 2, in the rear of the main ballroom at Centennial Hall during the opening night of the 49th annual Alaska Folk Festival on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

Becca Antonoplos dances with her daughter, Mackovia Rohrbacher, 2, in the rear of the main ballroom at Centennial Hall during the opening night of the 49th annual Alaska Folk Festival on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

On that note, she said, the Juneau family trio band The Goetz Who was missing one of its players as Jeff Goetz and Stella Goetz took to the stage.

“I learned that Fisher — the drummer — is yet another fatality of the Slush Cup,” Elliot said, referring to an event the previous day where about 80 people spent the last day of the season at Eaglecrest Ski Area trying to cross a 100-foot-long ice-filled pond. “He didn’t quite make it all the way according to his sister. So he is home nursing a very sore throat, so I thought maybe while we’re waiting for these guys to set up we could send a little Folk Fest love out to Fisher.”

On a count of three the crowd in the cavernous main ballroom of Centennial Hall shouted “Get well Fisher,” who along with others not at the venue had the chance to hear the happenings via public radio and livestream.

Musicians perform an impromptu set in the hallway outside the main ballroom at Centennial Hall during the opening night of the 49th annual Alaska Folk Festival on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

Musicians perform an impromptu set in the hallway outside the main ballroom at Centennial Hall during the opening night of the 49th annual Alaska Folk Festival on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

The weeklong event is scheduled to feature more than 130 acts split mostly between Centennial Hall and the Juneau Arts and Culture Center across the parking lot from the convention center. Live stage sets will be the primary focus at Centennial Hall, while dance bands will perform at the JACC. There will also be a variety of workshops at the two sites and a handful of festival events at other venues, including a “side stage” featuring four performers from 6-8 p.m. nightly — and an open stage from 4-6 p.m. — nightly through Saturday at The Pottery Jungle at 233 Seward Street.

This year’s featured guest artist is Laurie Lewis, a California bluegrass musician who’s been performing for nearly four decades beginning in her early 20s. Featured among the many dance bands is The Daiquiri Queens from Lafayette, Louisiana.

The complete schedule and information about the artists is available at https://akfolkfest.org.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read