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Down home feel, global flair

Fall Folk Festival fills SCC Lair with array of artists and sounds

Don’t let this week’s snow flurry fool you: We’re still in the middle of fall.

And if you needed a further reminder that winter is still more than a month away, indulge in the Fall Folk Festival, now in its 18th year, this weekend. The event, which is free and all-ages, features a diverse selection of music and dance on eight stages, as well as local arts and crafts vendors and kids’ activities.

Here are some of the festival highlights to ensure an immersive cultural experience:

• Festival Live on KPBX, Saturday at 11 a.m. Carlos Alden and Verne Windham of Spokane Public Radio, 91.1 FM, will host a two-hour showcase of some of the festival’s performers, which will be broadcast live on KPBX. Artists include Russian folk ensemble Juliana and PAVA, bluegrass groups the Afterthoughts and Brown’s Mountain Boys, cowboy songs from Dan Burt, eclectic roots music by Bridges Home and the Brad Keeler Trio, and traditional Native American songs and stories from the Salish School of Spokane.

Juliana and PAVA, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Based out of Seattle, Juliana and PAVA is the definition of authentic Russian folk music. Clad in traditional Russian garb, the group performs songs that have been an integral part of Russian culture for generations, celebrating holidays, seasons and humanity’s relationship with nature. Although they’re primarily a vocal ensemble, PAVA (their name roughly translates to peacock) frequently uses period instruments, such as the balalaika and the hurdy-gurdy, which you don’t often see in modern musical performances.

• Rhymes of the Ranches, Sunday at 2 p.m. Here’s something a little different: Four regional writers who specialize in poems about life on the range will present their work. Readers include Glen Bair and Dick Warwick, and the event will be emceed by Bill Siems of Washington State University.

• Dance and music workshops, days and times vary. Over the course of the two-day festival, there are a number of educational workshops that will teach you the ins and outs of various instruments and dances. Learn the basics of guitar finger picking, for example, or how to square dance. Or participate in one of three contra dances, a form of line dancing that originated in New England in the 17th century.

And there are dozens of other artists to see and hear, performing traditional music with Celtic, Polynesian, Japanese, Polish and African roots, and in genres as varied as jazz, blues, country, pop and rock. It’s like traveling the globe without ever having to leave Spokane.

Visit for a complete, detailed artist schedule.