By Madisyn Hahn
June 13, 2019

Living up to its tradition Nebraska’s Folk & Roots Festival is celebrating its sixth year this year, with Grammy Winning artists, competitions, food and prizes. This year’s attendance is expected to surpass previous years.

The Co-Creator of Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival, Michael Semrad said, “Folk music, traditionally speaking, is the music of the people. We are expanding tradition and we are more than the words: Folk and Roots. Music is a language that anyone can relate to, that spans the emotional spectrum. We are about Nebraska’s roots and the stories that live within us all.”

It’s a night of music representing what and who Nebraska is, coming from all over the country. There will be Grammy Award-winning bluegrass artists, Folk legends, music from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and a variety of others.

“I am so excited about our lineup this year. We have Grammy Award-winning bluegrass artists The Travelin’ McCourys who won the Grammy with their solo record last year. The rest of the lineup is chock-full of incredible artists including Iowa Folk Legend, Greg Brown, who is retiring this year. Pokey LaFarge, who is a unique old time artist, that has music featured all over the big screen for example from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Jack White from the White Stripes produced two records on our lineup, one being Pokey LaFarge’s as well as Joshua Hedley, or as some call him Mr. JukeBox, from his days playing on Broadway in Nashville. Rainbow Girl is an eclectic group of roots music social media heroes. The Suitcase Junket is probably the most interesting and unique artist on the roster. He does a one-man-band approach to Roots Rock, and is exploding with over-tones and other unique sounds,” Semrad said.

Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival is only a one-day event this year rain or shine, which means it’s going to be packed with a variety of food, entertainment, workshops and much more.

“The newest thing this year we are excited about it moving the event to the Pinewood Bowl Theatre. But, we are also sticking to what people like: The Free Workshops in the morning, 2nd Annual Dietze Music Guitar & Fiddle Competition for adults and kids, art for families, booths of all kinds, food trucks of some of the best local fare, and of course local brew from Kinkaider Brewing Company. There is an official after-party at Conestoga Lake, just 10 minutes away as well, that will offer camping and overnight accommodations,” Semrad said.

Another addition to firsts this year is the integration of adult competition. Before the festival starts on the 15th, there will also be the second annual Dietze Music Guitar & Fiddle Competition that will take place 9 a.m.-noon; sign up is on the Nebraska Folk and Roots Website. There will also be a Nebraska Folk & Roots after party and post jam at Conestoga Lake. This will be a first-come, first-served event straight after the festival.

“The Dietze Music Guitar & Fiddle Competition is for the kids and adults that are free to submit, but you do need a ticket to get into the festival area. The prizes provided by Dietze Music are insanely cool, so I highly suggest submitting and trying your hand at competing. The kids are spectacular and it’s a great way to get them pickin’ early and fiddling too,” said Semrad. “The days of Brownville were a huge inspiration for the adult competition. My idea was to create a place that we can expand tradition and inspire young players. Inviting adults is new this year, so we’ll see how it goes. I know there are some great players out there, so bring your A-game.”

This is a family friendly event that is meant for people to make memories and share a great experience with one another. Expectations will be raised, and attendees will not be disappointed with the upgraded aspects of the planned event.

“I want to create a safe space for everyone to feel comfortable and take it all in. I want people to walk away from this festival and say, ‘That was a really well-organized, well-booked event.’ It’s my responsibility to live up to expectations every year and bring only the very best experience all around. I hope people smile, hug their loved ones, and enjoy each other’s company. And maybe say ‘I love this and I love you,’ a lot,” said Semrad.

For more information and updates check out the Folk & Roots Festival Facebook page here. Here is where participants can purchase tickets and read more about the festival.

Madisyn Hahn is a multimedia intern with KZUM.