34th annual Anchorage Folk Festival celebrates return of live performances

Anchorage Folk Festival
An audience at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Wendy Williamson Auditorium watches “Parlor in the Round,” a warm-up show for the 2023 Anchorage Folk Festival. (Courtesy Anchorage Folk Festival)

The Anchorage Folk Festival returns in full force on Friday, after scaling back during the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Mile Twelve, a Bluegrass band out of Boston, is the headliner for this weekend.   

The group is known for singing fast and picking hard which the festival’s president, Johnse Ostman, said will help to get things off to a good start.  

“They take Bluegrass where sometimes Bluegrass doesn’t go,” Ostman said. “And they’re young and their energetic.”   

But it’s the energy and efforts of the volunteers, Ostman said, that makes the Anchorage Folk Festival what it is. And during the pandemic, a lot of it had to redirected to recorded performances that were shared online.  

“We haven’t done this in a long time,” Ostman said. “We’ve worked really hard with our board of directors and volunteers to make sure everyone has a really fun time.”   

Bucking Mules, an old-time string band, with roots in Tennessee and North Carolina, is the headliner for Week 2 of the festival. They’re known for their barn dances and will give Alaskans a chance to kick up their heels at the Nave in Spenard on Jan. 28.   

The folk festival, though, is best known for showcasing local groups on its main stage at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. There are performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for both this weekend and the next.  

The festival also features jam sessions in the lobby, workshops taught by both locals and guest artists, dances and other community events.

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