Central Ohio Folk Fest

Central Ohio Folk Festival

Galloway’s Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park hosts a two-day musical showcase. 

What began two decades ago as a one-day celebration of folk music has become a weekend devoted to 15 variations of the genre. More than 5,000 folk-music enthusiasts are expected at this year’s 21st annual fest in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, showcasing 30 musicians on three stages. The family-friendly event also features workshops ranging from improvisation to playing the perfect riff. “The festival is educational to its very roots,” festival director Diane Boston says. “Parents have told me that their little one picked up a fiddle here and began violin lessons the next year.” We talked to a few artists hitting the stage this year.

Carole Walker: Singer-songwriter-guitarist Carole Walker credits Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, Joni Mitchell and Parliament Funkadelic with leading her into a life of music. “Our house was like ‘The Brady Bunch,’ ” she recalls with a chuckle. “The living room was dominated by a huge console stereo, and my dad played just about any genre you can think of on it.” The Columbus resident attributes that diversity to her eclectic style. “My mantra is, ‘If you’re in my music, you’re in my life, and if you’re in my life, you’re in my music.’ ”

Dave Hawkins: Cincinnati guitarist Dave Hawkins never ignores the voices of the musicians he admires that are swirling around inside his head. Some days it’s Peter, Paul & Mary. Other times, it’s Judy Collins with whispers from The Who. “Wherever I’m playing, they’re all there,” the 60-year-old says. Hawkins regales audiences with stories springing from activities his grandchildren are involved in (“Girl Scout Cookies”) to a married couple going through the motions of being a twosome (“Sunday Mornin’ Train”). 

The Relentless Mules: It didn’t take long for a jam session six years ago to spark the idea to form a band. These days, Columbus’ Chris Stevens, Dan Phelps and Glenn Rinehart love nothing more than sharing bluegrass tunes. “About a year after that session, we were determined to start our own band,” Stevens says. “We were, in fact, relentless about it.” Stevens explains why the Central Ohio Folk Music Festival is a favorite: “It provides an opportunity for folks from 6 to 60 to learn about this music … in ways they never had before.”

For more information and this year's dates, visit columbusfolkmusicsociety.org.