The Alaska Folk Festival will take place at Centennial Hall from April 4-10 after two years of being curtailed sharply by the pandemic. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The Alaska Folk Festival will take place at Centennial Hall from April 4-10 after two years of being curtailed sharply by the pandemic. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Folk Fest returns full force to Juneau

The 47th annual performance of the event returns to live concerts with a roar.

After two years of curtailed operations as the pandemic upset aspects of society worldwide, the Alaska Folk Festival, a longtime banner event of the town, will return live and in color to Juneau.

The public support for the festival, which began as an impromptu performance in 1975, has been huge, said Miguel Rohrbacher, vice president of the AFF board.

“This is a really exciting thing for us to be able to put this on,” Rohrbacher said. “We’ve been really edified by the support of the members and the excitement of the public.”

[Whale’s body spotted near Tenakee Inlet]

The board was unsure about how the spring was going to look, Rohrbacher said, hedging their bets against a spike of cases. 2020’s festival was canceled entirely, with 2021 operating in a digital format.

“In September or October we were going to reserve the right to cancel or change the format. But we tried to plan with some optimism,” Rohrbacher said. “We’ve been really pleased that the COVID situation has been working with our timeline.”

This year will see a return to the classic format of bands in front of crowds at Centennial Hall, albeit with a few modifications.

“It’s seven nights of concerts. Our evening concerts are a mix of people who its their first time on the stage and people who are professional touring musicians,” Rohrbacher said. “This year we’re not doing dances. We thought whatever the situation was, that might not be prudent.”

Many acts are repeat performers, Rohrbacher said — during the AFF, a good portion of Alaska’s music scene will coalesce in Juneau. The festival will also be having workshops for performers in things like guitars, singing, amplifiers and more, said Rohrbacher.

“You see the same people year after year. It’s like a big music reunion in Southeast Alaska.”

Plenty of acts have signed on to take part in the festival, Rohrbacher said Performers at Folk Festival , with the exception of the featured act, are not paid, a longtime aspect of the festival.

“We have over a 100 acts so there’s plenty for people to choose from. Some of the acts have three people, some have 20 people,” Rohrbacher said. “We think a lot about the mission of the Folk Festival. The mission of the Folk Festival, as they put it, the founders of the festival, was to encourage people to play music together in their living rooms. And to play music together in a community.”

This year’s featured guest performer is Jake Blount, a Rhode Island-based banjo- and fiddle-player and singer with a background in ethnomusicology, Rohrbacher said. Blount is scheduled to play on Thursday and Sunday evenings, according to the AFF website.

“All the sets are volunteer sets except for the guest artist,” Rohrbacher said. “We bring up a guest artist to highlight some aspects of folk music.”

Centennial Hall usually isn’t the only venue that opens it doors to musicians, Rohrbacher said, as many of the downtown bars will get in the spirit in their own fashion.

“Most of the downtown bars that are a music venue will bring up an artist as well,” Rohrbacher said. “That’s not sponsored or organized by the Folk Festival.”

The festival will kick off on April 4, with evening shows all week and afternoon shows on the weekend as well, until the final show Sunday night, Rohrbacher said.

“Every single night and afternoon concert is going to be a good session of music and a good concert,” Rohrbacher said. “That’s how we put it together, with that in mind.”

Check out the concert schedule at

Know and go

What: 47th Annual Alaska Folk Festival

When: April 4-10

Where: Centennial Hall

Admission: Free

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 June 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mucking, trucking, chucking and yukking it up at Juneau Gold Rush Days

Logging competitions, live music, other events continue Sunday at Savikko Park.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, June 20, 2024

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

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
State judge upholds most fines against group seeking repeal of Alaska ranked choice voting

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled that opponents of Alaska’s ranked… Continue reading

Joshua Midgett and Kelsey Bryce Riker appear on stage as the emcees for MixCast 2023 at the Crystal Saloon. (Photo courtesy Juneau Ghost Light Theatre)
And now for someone completely different: Familiar faces show new personas at annual MixCast cabaret

Fundraiser for Juneau Ghost Light Theatre on Saturday taking place amidst week of local Pride events

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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

A king salmon is laid out for inspection by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Aug. 25, 2019. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Emergency order bans king salmon fishing in many Juneau waters between June 24 and Aug. 31

Alaska Department of Fish and Game says low projected spawning population necessitates restrictions

Most Read