The Fairbanks Folk Fest (FFF) currently runs three main events: the Winter Folk Fest, the Summer Folk Fest, and the Fairbanks Bluegrass Camp for Kids. FFF is recognized as a non profit corporation by the State of Alaska and is a non profit 501(c)3 organization as defined by IRS. It is run by a non paid Board of Directors and many volunteers.
The first Fairbanks Summer Folk Fest was held in August 1987 at Pioneer Park (then called Alaskaland). It was run by a Board of three--Bruce Delbridge, Michael "Fiddlin' Wolf" Cartusciello, and Dick Ferris plus a handful of volunteers. The idea came about when Wolf was at Job Services talking with Dick who asked him what he would like to do (as opposed to suggesting a job opportunity). Wolf said he'd like to start a music festival. It has generally been held at Pioneer Park, but for a couple of years in the early 90s the festival was held at the Blue Loon. Then it came back to Pioneer Park for several years. Beginning in 2016, the event has been held at the Ester Community Park. Although it originally had an entrance fee, it eventually became free to the public thanks to donations and memberships. Some memorable additions to the music in the past included a Tall Tales and Braggers Competition, a Banjo Throw and a Tamborine Toss.
The Winter Folk Fest started in the late 1980s and was run by Riley Woodford and Kelly Leseman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where the two musicians were attending school at the time. It didn't run for a year and then was revived by Julie Pigott and Trudy Heffernan. About that time it came under the umbrella of Fairbanks Folk Fest and later moved to Pioneer Park. Winter Fest has always been free to the public.
Both festivals are run by volunteers under the guidance of the organization's volunteer board of directors. The primary goals of the festival are to showcase the incredible talent in this town and give as many performers as possible an opportunity to play in front of an appreciative audience. The Festivals receive support from the Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation and KUAC public radio. Many individuals, families, and small businesses contribute to FFF and help to keep the festivals free.
In addition to the festivals, FFF has sponsored concerts, dances, and music workshops. Over the years, the organization has brought to the community many talented musicians in many areas of roots music, including: folk, blues, bluegrass, old time, county, and Celtic.
In keeping with the organization's bylaws and articles of incorporation, which make music education an important goal, the FFF began the Fairbanks Bluegrass Camp for Kids in 2002. This week long camp has been held each summer since then, and offers roots music instruction to as many as 50 kids (ages 8-16) in guitar, fiddle, banjo, bass, mandolin, vocals, songwriting and traditional dance. Instruction is offered by some of the top roots musicians in Alaska and from around the country. Kids from Fairbanks are joined by native students from villages in the Yukon And Tanana River areas. The success of the program has helped bring in scholarships from organizations such as Doyon, Fairbanks Native Association, and Tanana Chiefs Conference, Young Native Fiddlers and Dancing with the Spirit.
Fairbanks Folk Fest P.O. Box 84379 Fairbanks, AK 99708