Bob Kirby is gone but his legacy lives on. The 15th annual Central Ohio Folk Festival will celebrate the memory of the longtime supporter of traditional music.

Bob Kirby is gone but his legacy lives on.

The 15th annual Central Ohio Folk Festival will celebrate the memory of the longtime supporter of traditional music.

Always held the first full weekend in May, the 2011 edition of the festival will take place May 6, 7 and 8 at Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park in Galloway.

Entitled "Experiencing the Nature of Music," the festival is a partnership of the Columbus Folk Music Society Inc. and Metro Parks.

The "Bob Kirby Spotlight Concerts" on May 7 and 8 are free to the public, as are a series of children's activities planned both days. The 2011 Bob Kirby Memorial Scholarship in Traditional Music will be presented at 4 p.m. on May 7.

Robert W. Kirby died Dec. 20, 2008, at the age of 74. The Portsmouth native was a 21-year veteran of the Ohio Army National Guard and retired with the rank of captain. He spent 23 years as a hospital administrator at Madison County Hospital in London. He was an ardent member of the Columbus Folk Music Society.

"His interest in his Irish heritage led him to the Shamrock Club of central Ohio where he was Member of the Year, Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and also as served as entertainment chairman," Kirby's obituary in The Columbus Dispatch stated. "His love of Irish music provided him the opportunity to meet musicians, dancers and friends locally and abroad. He was a volunteer on various committees at the Dublin Irish Festival for 12 years."

"Bob Kirby was a respected supporter of traditional music in central Ohio, especially in promoting music at the Shamrock Club and the Dublin Irish Festival," according to a letter about the award from scholarship committee co-chairs Sharon and Art Mittenbergs. "The need-based scholarship in his name is awarded annually to a central Ohio student who is interested in performing traditional music."

For the first time in the history of the Central Ohio Folk Festival, Clintonville resident Nancy Cline Bailey is not the organizer of the event. The Mittenbergs, coordinators of workshops at the annual event for several years, have taken over those duties.

But that doesn't mean folk music and the festival aren't still near and dear to the heart of Nancy Bailey.

"There are just all kinds of people involved," Bailey said of pulling things together to pull off the annual celebration of folk music. "It's a big job for a little festival.

"It's take a lot of people and a lot of coordinated effort."

The Saturday evening concert, which gets under way at 7, will feature Columbus native Dave Hawkins as the opening act. Now based in Cincinnati, he has a "broad base in folk and Celtic music" as well as five albums under his belt, according to Bailey.

The headliners for the show will be Annie and Rod Capps, joined by Jason Dennie. The folk artists are from Michigan.

"They're really quite good," Bailey said. "Annie and Rod are really fun. They're just delightful."

Bailey's husband, Fred Bailey, is a member of the Hardtackers, who will be singing sea chanteys on the Bob Kirby Stage at 3 p.m. on May 8. He's also the fiscal officer for the festival, and he calls the event a "musicians coop," according to Nancy Bailey. That's because all the workshop presenters and performers participate with no guarantee of a fee. Proceeds from the $30 ticket for the entire, which applies only to the workshops not the performances, is divided up and distributed among the musicians and instructors based on their contributions to the event, Nancy Bailey said.

"They don't even know if they're going to get fuel money, and they just faithfully come back and they do it" she said. "It's the camaraderie and the community feel. I've had people tell me it's like a family reunion."

While folk music had its heyday in this country in the 1960s, much of the annual festival is geared toward children. Clintonville resident Joanie Calem, who is a folk musician herself and will be the opening performer on May 7 at 11 a.m., is the children's stage coordinator, along with Linda McDonald.

The festival always features what Calem called a "petting zoo" of banjos, guitars and other "folkie" instruments the children may try out. There's also a tent where children's music and free stories for those ages 1 to 4 will take place on both May 7 and 8.

The children's activities are less about indoctrination and more about preservation, according to Calem.

"I think truthfully it's not so much to generate a new generation but more to keep alive this tradition of folk music that's always been directed at all ages," she said.

Calem, who grew up in the United States but moved to Israel at the age of 15 and completed her high school degree at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, said that she performs for young audiences throughout central Ohio.

"You look at kids' faces and they are truly mesmerized by seeing live instruments and live music coming out of a live person," Calem said. "They just look at me sometimes and it's like, 'Wow, this is really interesting.' "

"It seems to me there is a little bit of a trend for the young people, especially those in their 20s who are looking for melody, the only place they can find that is folk music," Nancy Bailey said.

"What we'd like to see is another '60s revival, but chances are that isn't going to happen," she added.

Calem pointed out that many of those who will be performing at the 15th annual Central Ohio Folk Festival are born and bred Ohioans.

"They are very much carrying on the great Ohio musical tradition," she said.