The Central Ohio Folk Festival will move to southern Delaware County to make room for the annual event's growing audience.
The Columbus Folk Music Society, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and WCBE 90.5 again have joined forces to sponsor the 22nd annual event, which is May 5 and 6. The festival will be held at Highbanks Metro Park, 9466 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center, for the first time in the event's history.
Bill Cohen, spokesman for the festival and a longtime member of the society, said the event has outgrown its home of more than a decade at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park in southwest Franklin County. He said attendance in recent years has topped 4,000, leading park officials to suggest a new site with more parking and space.
"We're really excited about moving it to Highbanks," Cohen said. "It gives us a lot more room."
Cohen said the move also puts the festival closer to "the population centers of Columbus."
The audience wasn't always so expansive for the festival, which started at Immaculate Conception Church in Columbus' Clintonville neighborhood.
"It started very small with just a few hundred people, and it's grown and grown," Cohen said.
The event will feature a mix of activities, workshops and, of course, musical performances.
Activities at the event are free with two exceptions: Visitors can pay $10 per day to attend an unlimited number of workshops, while a special concert at 7 p.m. May 5 will cost $20.
Folk singer-songwriter Tom Rush will headline the special show. Rush is known for his cover of Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game" and his own often-covered composition, "No Regrets."
"We're excited about Tom Rush," Cohen said. "Many of the folkies are over age 60, and we remember the modern folk-music revival of the (1950s and 1960s). Tom Rush was a big part of that."
While fans of folk music are expected to make up a big portion of the festival's audience, Cohen said the family-friendly event will attract all ages. He said he's seen a growing interest in folk music among teens and young adults in recent years.
"The whole festival is family entertainment at its finest," festival director Diane Boston said in a statement. "And it is a rich learning opportunity in multiple ways for all ages -- whether it is hearing a wide range of folk and acoustic roots music or trying out an instrument for the first time. Whether it is honing already existing musical skills or learning steps to a folk dance, it is bound to be a great experience for the whole family."
While the event will move to a larger venue, Cohen said he expects it will remain an intimate experience.
"It's not huge and impersonal," he said. "It's got a nice small-festival feel to it."