The Magic Valley Folk Festival is bringing about 150 dancers from six nations to Burley for a week-long series of unique entertainment next week, July 24-29. This is a must-see festival with multiple opportunities for kids and families to see and experience free events during the week and two gala performances on the weekend.
It all begins next Monday, July 24, at 7 p.m. with a kick-off parade in historic Rupert Square. Dancers from Austria, Switzerland, Belarus, Chile, Ecuador, Indonesia will perform to live music, giving folks a sneak-peek at what to expect at the gala performances later in the week.
“They are here to perform, and they really put on an amazing show,” says Amy Young, co-chair of the Magic Valley Folk Festival. “They have beautiful, colorful authentic costumes, and each team has different dances planned that fit their culture. Each show will be different.”
On Wednesday, July 26, it’s Youth Culture Day, a free event for kids that starts with check-in at 9:30 a.m. at the King Fine Arts Center on the grounds of Burley High School. Eight-hundred kids attended the youth culture event last year. Small groups rotate through different workshops where kids can learn about the different cultures and have an opportunity to ask lots of questions.
“Each kid gets a passport and they can take it around to get it signed by dancers with the different teams and nationalities,” said Krista Gammon, co-chair of the festival. “The kids really enjoy doing that and learning about the different countries and people.”
On Friday and Saturday night, July 28-29, the international dancers will give spell-binding performances at the King Fine Arts Center to live music, beginning each night at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for children.
“At these performances, the dancers present their best dances in colorful costumes,” Young and Gammon explain. “They spend hundreds of hours preparing for this high-energy presentation. These authentic folk dances are performed to live music and provide a glimpse of the history and culture of the different countries represented. You’ll be amazed at the quality of these world-class performers!”
It’s rare to be able to experience such unique cultural entertainment with an international flair in Southern Idaho any time of the year, Gammon points out.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for cultural exchange,” she said. “We love living in Burley, and it’s pretty cool to invite the world to our small community. We had over 70 applications from dancing teams around the world.”
The organizers spend a great deal of time during the year fund-raising to bring the international dancers to Burley. “They just need to get to the Salt Lake City airport, and we get them here from there,” she said.
The Magic Valley Folk Festival is timed to sync with two festivals in Utah, so the dancers can perform in all three events, if they choose to do so, to maximize on their experience in the United States.
For more information, go to magicvalleyfestival.com or their Facebook page.