World Folkfest Springville, Utah, USA


Festival no fees USA

Our Story

Now, for 35 years, the Springville World Folkfest remains one of the largest festivals of folk dance and music in the United States. Hundreds of dancers and musicians from more than 45 countries have performed, thousands of spectators have watched and cheered them on, and an outdoor amphitheatre has grown literally out of bare soil to become a state-of-the-art facility specifically designed to accommodate folk dancing.
The Springville World Folkfest was born during a meeting in January of 1986 of individuals who hoped to create a festival of folk dance and music in Springville. This group included Mary Bee Jensen, founder of Brigham Young University’s International Folk Dance Ensemble, who traveled often with her students to folk festivals around the world. In 1975, she held her own festival at BYU as part of the university’s centennial celebration, and “Christmas Around the World,” the university’s annual folk dance extravaganza, was her own version of a kind of folk festival.
Also present at the meeting was George Frandsen, a young Salt Lake City lawyer who dreamed of having his family and friends enjoy the graceful court dances of Poland, the ballet-like features of Japanese folk dancing and the swish of the huge banners of Belgium without leaving their home state. Skilled bluegrass fiddler Karl Allred, his wife Rama Allred and Kristeen Harrington also attended.
At that meeting, the dream was placed in motion, but it would take countless hours of hard work if the dream were to become fact. Hundreds of dancers would need to be housed, fed and transported – sometimes without the ability to communicate in English.
Faith in the proposed project drew the financial support of Springville’s City Council in a time when few city leaders would have seen beyond fiscal concerns. Thousands of hours were expended by volunteers. Local residents opened their homes and their hearts to the dancers as host families. A wooden stage was erected for the Folkfest over home plate in a baseball field northwest of Springville High School – and the first Springville World Folkfest was presented in August of 1986.
The first Folkfest delivered 12 performances and four folk parades with 460 dancers from 13 countries participating. At its inception, it was the largest folk festival in the United States. Some 43,000 patrons came – and so it was one starry night the festival founders gazed into the faces of an overflow audience of 5,000, having accomplished the impossible.

The Folkfest’s first board was formed in 1987 with George Frandsen as president and board members Brent Haymond, Mary Bee Jensen, Kris Harrington, Dennis Hill, Bruce Olsen, Karl Allred, Colleen Drollinger, Delora Bertelsen, Pete Roundy and Bart Skinner.

In its first years, Folkfest performances were held in Salt Lake County venues such as the Capitol Theater and Symphony Hall. The high cost of securing these venues eventually led the Folkfest to present all its performances in Springville.
After its first year, the Folkfest was held on stages built on the Springville High School football and soccer fields – with performances occasionally moved into the Springville High School Auditorium due to inclement weather – before a new venue became available. The Spring Acres Arts Park, an area northeast of Springville High School naturally sheltered by a hill and mature trees on one side and named for springs that welled up out of the ground, was developed into an outdoor amphitheatre by Springville City.
A concrete stage designed specifically for the needs of the Folkfest – with two side stages where one live band could perform while the next one set up on the other side – was erected at the Arts Park and the Folkfest began using the park as its permanent home in 1991.

Each year since then, improvements have been made to the Arts Park. The bare concrete stage became flanked by towering poles bearing the weight of state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment. A canopy over the stage was added to shield performers from the elements. Sound cables were buried and professional sound equipment was permanently installed. City employees groomed the grounds and permanent bleacher seating was added. A permanent sound booth was constructed and a new building was added that houses restrooms, a ticket booth and a first aid area.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, led to greater difficulties in obtaining visas allowing dance groups to travel to the Folkfest. Financial instability in the world also made it difficult for groups to obtain the money to reach Utah, and the number of groups attending each year dwindled until the Folkfest had to be cancelled in the summer of 2007 due to a lack of groups. In 2008, however, the Folkfest was back up and running with a new selection of dance groups for audiences, and attendance and interest from countries around the world have been growing ever since.
In recent years, the Folkfest has partnered with other folk dance festivals in the Intermountain West, including the Summerfest International Art and Folk Festival in Bountiful and Magic Valley Folk Festival in Burley, Idaho, and coordinated its schedule with theirs so the dancers and musicians can attend more than one festival while they are in the USA and make the most of their international travel.
Hundreds of local families during the last 30 years have had the experience of housing dancers and musicians from around the globe in their homes. Amazingly, strangers at the beginning of the Folkfest have become fast friends within the short week of the Folkfest, and many tears are shed each year as the dancers board their buses to leave Springville. Some dancers have returned years later to visit their host families, and some families have travelled to other countries and stayed in the homes of their former visitors.
One of the primary goals of the Folkfest is to foster love and understanding among peoples of all lands and cultures. From their first experience in becoming part of an American family to saying goodbye to a dear friend made during a week’s time, the Folkfest offers a true opportunity for participants and patrons to come to know, understand and even love each other.


Number of National groups: 2
Number of International groups: 10
Minimum ages participants: 16
Maximum number of participants in a group: 45
Recorded music allowed: No
Accomodation: Host-Families

Traditional Folk Art: Yes
Traditional Folk Music: Yes
Traditional Folk Singing: Yes
Present-day Dancing: No
Workshops dance/music: Yes
Traditional food preparing: Yes


Timothy Lynn Elliott



P.O. Box 306, link Springville, Utah 84663 – USA

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We encourage young people up to 35 years of age to actively participate in research, protection and conservation of popular culture and heritage. Students (with legal Student-card) have a discount of 50% Youth members till the age of 35 have a discount of 50%

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Folklorist, teacher, scientist, researcher, lover of culture and popular heritage, every single individual who wishes to support the organization with his own personal financial contribution.


IOV Senators are people with a special sensitivity to the research, protection and conservation of popular culture and heritage, and by participating with their financial support they will have particular privileges and honors of philanthropy.

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Small folk art groups, instrumental or vocal ensembles with 8 members or less

Larger Group

Folk art groups with more than 8 members, organizations, associations, clubs, dance groups


Craftsmen, artists, traditional crafts, cooks of ancient flavors, ethnic crafts, players of ancient traditional games, experts in traditional games, lovers of battles and historical reenactments, sorcerers and experts in empirical medicine and medicinal herbs, actively participate in the research, protection and conservation of culture and popular heritage.


International Festivals, exhibitions institutes, museums, universities and similar institutions and national authorities (ministries, public institutions)

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Residents of a country with a Gross National Product (GNP) lower then 1000 have a discount of 75%
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    Minimum requirements festival

    Festivals and groups must communicate promptly and professionally.
    Exchanging of all necessary information is the base for a professional organization.

    If possible, an application form should be used by the groups.
    Festival organizers offer such form after a request by groups or have it on the website of the festival.
    The application form has to be clear and must provide all the necessary information about the festival to interested groups.
    Festival organizers must be given a good view of the complete genre of performances by the use of video-information (YouTube-links), pictures, and a list of festivals where they recently have performed.

    * The kind of accommodations (e.g. hostel, hotel, school or host-family), meals, number of performances, duration of the performances, venues, technical abilities of venues.
    * The exact date of arrival for groups and the exact date of departure of the groups.
    * Exact information about the traveling situation during the festival dates. (pick-up from the airport and the return to the airport). The use of transport during the festival days.
    * The possibility of using recorded music during performances. (Yes or No).
    * The offer of pocket-money or other cost-compensations. (Yes or No)
    * The general program of the festival, including the spending of free time and sight-seeing.

    In IOV-festivals normally it’s not usual to ask for money to invited groups.
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    * The composition of the group. (e.g. average ages of the participants, number of dancers (male/female), musicians, leaders, choreographer(s), translators, drivers).
    * The musical instruments that are used and the need for amplification.
    * The need to ask for VISA for traveling to the country of the festival. (Visa expenses are always in charge of the group).
    * Medical insurance for all group members must be taken out by the group.
    * Information about eventually other festivals where they are going to participate during the same tour.

    * The festival organizer has to communicate clearly about invitations to groups.
    * Selected groups will receive an official invitation for the announced festival. The invitation to groups will be sent at least 120 days before the start of the festival.
    * In unforeseen situations and necessary postponing of a festival it’s necessary to communicate clearly between organizers and groups.
    * The festival organizer will send to the invited groups a clear overview of the preliminary program of the complete festival.
    * The festival organizer has to explain the exact location and expected time of arrival.
    * After the first arrival of groups at the festival location, the organizer will explain to the members of the group about the rules during the festival.
    * The staff of the festival and representatives will be introduced to the group (e.g. guides, translators).
    * A schedule of the performances, locations, and duration will be given to the group leader.
    * The definitive program of the festival will be explained to the members of the group.
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    * Information about time and locations for rehearsals will be given to the group leader.
    * Information about the use of dressing-rooms, maintenance of costumes, make-up for artists will be given to the group leader.
    * dimensions and surface of stages and technical equipment as amplification, lightning, stage monitors, dress-changes, stage attributes (chairs for musicians, etc.).

    In general, these must be clean, comfortable, quiet, safe, and secure.
    * Accommodations may be hotel, dormitory, school, hostel, or private home.
    * Pictures to be sent by the festival to the group if requested.
    * Bathroom with shower should be provided commensurate with the number of persons to be served.
    * locked sleeping rooms, and cleaned daily.
    * Hot and cold running water.
    * Drinking water provided.
    * Mirror for make-up/shaving.
    * Sufficient electrical outlets.
    * Comfortable beds with sufficient bedding and pillow.
    * Sufficient space for suitcases, hanging clothing, and costumes.
    * Seasonal heat/air-conditioning/ventilation.
    * On-site assistant or guide.
    * Area for socializing outside sleeping quarters

    * The guests should not have to purchase their food.
    * Meals must be provided (3 per day).
    * Food must be sufficient, nourishing, and tasty.
    * Enough drinking water at all accommodations. (including venues of performances)

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