Springville, known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant community, is preparing once again for its renowned World Folkfest. Now in its 35th year, the tradition continues with four days of activities and entertainment from Wednesday, Aug 2 to Saturday, Aug 5 at the Springville Arts Park.
This year’s festival will have performances by international folk dance groups, featuring more than 200 performers from eight diverse cultures, including Mexico, Latvia, and—in a first for the festival—Serbia. Each night, the performance will be paired with activities and opportunities for audience members to learn more about the cultures and their customs. While each international ensemble performs every night, the order in which they perform and the routine they present is different.
“I think it’s a great community event,” general director Lynn Elliott said. “It gives people a little broader understanding of the world because we meet people outside the United States. The thing that gets me most excited is to see the performing groups. The group that we have from Bolivia has been here before, but the other groups haven’t, so we’re going to meet new people and get to know new performing ensembles.”
Since it began in 1986, the Springville World Folkfest has become a cultural highlight and a testament to the city’s commitment to art and culture. It’s more than just a series of performances, however. The festival serves as a platform for cultural exchange, fostering understanding and appreciation for different traditions. During the festival, visitors can actively engage with performers and learn about their customs, costumes, and music. The performers will be available each night throughout the grounds and at the Folkfest’s new photo op booth. A number of pre-show activities are also planned, including basket weaving demonstrations and an African drum beat learning activity for children.
This year, the Folkfest will also be presenting a Parade of Nations and folk dance party on Tuesday, August 1. In partnership with University Place in Orem, the free event begins at 6 pm. For the parade, the international folk-dance ambassadors will promenade through the mall with their country’s flag while dressed in their authentic costumes. Afterward, at the folk dance party, the World Folkfest will offer authentic folk dancing classes.
“We talk about bringing the world to Springville, and I think that’s true,” Elliott said. “We have people who don’t know that much about the United States, or Utah in particular, but they come and see a new culture. And those people come from different countries, places that people in Springville may not be that familiar with, so they learn about the culture that way. It really is about bringing the world to Springville.”
The festival’s success would not be possible without the dedicated efforts of countless volunteers and organizers who work tirelessly behind the scenes. Their commitment to preserving and promoting cultural diversity has turned the Springville World Folkfest into a beloved event eagerly anticipated by audiences year after year.
“We have a lot of support for the community. We have had a lot of people involved with it since the early days,” Elliott said. “We’re one of the few festivals left that place performers with host families, so you lots of families in Springville have had dancers over the years. And I think that community engagement has helped it endure.”
Springville’s World Folkfest is the largest United Nations-partnered festival in the United States, with more than 3,500 visitors each year. Tickets are available for purchase on the Folkfest website. Prices for single tickets range from $5 to $14, but passes for groups and families are also available, along with multi-night packages. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate the night of performances for $1 more. Gates open at 6 pm.