Learn About the Kerrville Folk Festival

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Introduction

The Kerrville Folk Festival is one of the United States’ music events that has been going strong for the longest amount of time. At the Quiet Valley Ranch in the Texas Hill Country, which is located about an hour’s drive north of San Antonio, people come from all over the world to spend eighteen days immersed in live music. The event draws a crowd of up to thirty thousand people each year. Dedicated festivalgoers frequently attend the event year after year, treating the venue as if it were their primary residence.

What is the Kerrville Folk Festival?

The Kerrville Folk event is a music festival that takes place at Quiet Valley Ranch in the vicinity of Kerrville, Texas, throughout the late spring and early summer for a total of 18 consecutive days. Rod Kennedy and Nancylee Davis, a married couple, were the ones who conceptualized and established the Kerrville Folk Festival in 1972. 

Since that time, the activity has been repeated each year. After Kennedy’s retirement in 2002, the management of the Texas Folk Music Festival was taken up by the non-profit Texas Folk Music Foundation. Every year, the event is attended by approximately 30,000 people. Tickets are required to gain entry. A significant number of festivalgoers set up camp on the grounds of the event for the duration of all or part of the celebration. 

Even though the performances include a wide range of musical genres and styles, the festival lays a significant emphasis on songwriting. The purpose of the festival is to provide up-and-coming artists with opportunities to showcase their work in front of established as well as up-and-coming talent.

A Brief History of the Kerrville Folk Festival

  • The Kerrville Municipal Auditorium was the location of the inaugural Kerrville Folk Festival, which took place from June 1–3, 1972, and featured thirteen different acts. More than 2,800 supporters came from different parts of Texas and even as far away as Colorado to attend.
  • The Kerrville festivals were directly influenced by the Austin Zilker Park KHFI-FM Summer Music Festivals from 1964 to 1968, the Austin Chequered Flag Folk Music Club from 1967 to 1970, the eight Longhorn Jazz Festivals from 1966 to 1973, and the live and recorded programs of Austin folk artists broadcast on KHFI-AM-FM-TV in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s.
  • Several artists from Austin, in addition to National Fiddling Champion Dick Barrett of Pottsboro and Peter Yarrow, performed at the very first Kerrville Folk Festival. In 1973, the festival was expanded to include five concerts over the course of three nights, and the auditorium was packed with 5,600 attendees. The popularity of the event necessitated the search for a more spacious venue, especially one that was located outside. 
  • In December of 1973, a sixty-acre piece of land was purchased nine miles south of Kerrville on State Highway 16, and it was given the name Quiet Valley Ranch so as not to alarm the nearby residents. The work to doze thousands of cedar stumps and other debris left behind by a previous runaway fire started right away. The construction of a stage, a seating area, a concession stand, subterranean water and wiring, and 6,000 linear feet of seven-foot tall, deer-proof fencing got underway.
  • On May 23–26, 1974, the first outdoor festival was conducted on the new stage; the schedule had been enlarged to include four nights of performances. The facilities were finally finished, and outhouses were rented. The gates were opened every day at six in the evening and the concerts began at eight. 
  • In 1975, the non-profit organization known as the Kerrville Music Foundation, Incorporated was created to assist the intention of assisting novice songwriters. However, during its existence, the organization has also fostered and strived to conserve traditional art forms such of its existence, the organization has also fostered and strived to conserve traditional art forms including country yodeling, harmonic and mandolin playing, and bluegrass music.
  • In 1980, there were 13,000 people in attendance, and the following year, for the festival’s tenth anniversary, it was extended to eleven days. In that year, the presentation was increased, and a new stage was constructed in just three weeks by volunteers. In 1986, the festival celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with an eleven-day festival, the release of a special documentary record, and a fifteen-day tour by musicians to nine other states in their capacity as official state ambassadors on behalf of the Texas Sesquicentennial. The following year, the festival was extended to its current length of eighteen days, during which it is broken up into three separate weekends.
  • By the 1990s, there were now 25,000 people in attendance. An eighteen-day schedule of eleven evening concerts lasting six hours each, New Folk Concerts featuring forty writers, Folk Mass celebrations, six two-hour children’s concerts, and a four-day Festival of the Eagle celebrating American Indians were all part of the program. All of these events took place at the newly constructed and then expanded Threadgill Memorial Theater, which was located in the campgrounds. The festival has grown to become the largest and longest-running celebration of original songwriters in the United States of America. It also attracts musicians and spectators from all around the world.
  • The originator of the festival, Rod Kennedy, who was already seventy years old, sold the event to Vaughn Hafner of Dallas and his investors on October 1, 1999. This marked the transfer of ownership of the festival. The number of people attending the festival reached 30,000 by the year 2000.

When is Kerrville Folk Festival?

The Kerrville Folk Festival is an event that takes place at Quiet Valley Ranch in the vicinity of Kerrville, Texas, during the late spring or early summer for a total of 18 successive days.

How Much Does a Ticket to Kerrville Folk Festival Cost?

The price of a ticket might range anywhere from $30 to $50 for an adult. Tickets to the Kerrville Folk Festival range in price from $15 to $25 for teenagers aged 13 to 17 years old. And admission is completely free for youngsters under the age of 12 as long as they are accompanied by an adult who has purchased a ticket.

What is The Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Competition?

Each year, the Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Competition hosts a competition to locate talented new singer-songwriters. This competition is known as the New Folk Competition. A total of 800 submissions were reviewed, and 32 contestants were chosen as finalists to perform two of their original songs during an afternoon performance on the stage of the Threadgill Theater. 

Six winners will be chosen from among these 32 finalists by a select panel of seasoned musicians who have made a name for themselves as performing songwriters. In addition to receiving monetary compensation and other tangible prizes, the six winners will be allowed to take the main stage and deliver a set that will last for twenty minutes. 

A victory at the Kerrville competition carries a great deal of significance in the world of singer-songwriters. This is owing, in part, to the festival’s long history of recognizing new artists who have subsequently gone on to larger success, as judged by their peers who are also professionals in the industry. There have also been instances of well-known performers making it to the competition’s final round without ever taking home the prize for their category.

Where to Stay During the Kerrville Folk Festival

The fee of admission to the festival grants attendees access to the campground at no additional cost. Showers, flush toilets, fresh drinking water, and water spigots that are free-standing can be found at the campgrounds. The acquisition of an Electric Permit is essential to have access to power. Electric Permits can be obtained at the Electric Permit E-Z-Up located at the campground on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Camping in a tent does not require you to make reservations, and you are free to set up your tent in whatever location you like. You might even meet some new people this way. Because there are only 92 sites available for RVs, the campsite requires that reservations be made in advance.

What Should You Do at the Kerrville Folk Festival?

The thrill of the Kerrville Music Festivals may be experienced to the fullest at the Ranch if you choose to camp there. In the campgrounds, music of the highest quality can be heard at any time of day or night. 

The outdoor theaters, vendors, and Chapel Hill are all within walking distance of the gorgeous Hill Country campgrounds that span 20 acres and are spread out across the Hill Country. They welcome campers who bring both tents and RVs. 

Access to the campground is bundled with the purchase of every festival ticket. At the Ticket Booth, you will be given a festival wristband, and during the course of the Festival, you will be required to be wearing a valid festival wristband to enter any festival or ranch gate. Guests who have purchased tickets for the first weekend of the Kerrville Folk Festival are permitted to check in one day before the start of the event.

Things You Should Consider Before Attending the Kerrville Folk Festival

Food and Drinks

The areas surrounding nearby Theaters in the campsite each have their own set of vendors selling a selection of foods and beverages 24 hours a day. During performances at the Kennedy Outdoor Theater, there is also a set of vendors selling food and beverages there. 

The Kennedy Outdoor Theater does not permit guests to bring in any type of beverage container, including cans, bottles, or ice chests; however, these items are allowed in the campgrounds. Campers may bring everything from minimal essentials to highly sophisticated gear for cooking. Ice can also be purchased at the campground for your convenience. 

There are no single-use cups offered at the festival to cut down on waste. You are welcome to bring your cup, or you can purchase a commemorative cup from the merchandise booth or the majority of the food and beverage vendors located throughout the campground.

The Toilets, Bathrooms, Water, And Electricity

The camping area is equipped with restrooms and showers at various locations. On the ranch, there is access to drinkable water at all times. First-come, first-served access is provided at each of the various free-standing water spigots that are available. 

Free water is available, but if you plan to leave a hose attached to a spigot for an extended period, you will need to provide a hose splitter that has an open spigot on it so that others can use it. While many campers bring their drinking water with them, the campground does have filtered drinking water stations for campers to use. 

The purchase of an Electric Permit is essential to have access to power. Electric Permits can be obtained at the Electric Permit E-Z-Up located at the campgrounds on a first-come, first-served basis. There is access to electricity throughout the campground; however, there are only a select few accessible electrical plug-ins that are suitable for air conditioners. 

When you arrive, inquire with an electric permit crew about the possibility of renting an air conditioner. Per-day fees for electricity permits range from $6 to $18.

Campfires

Burning wood should only be done in designated fire pits, such as fire rings, barbecue grills, or outdoor fireplaces. Large bonfires are not permitted at this festival. Additionally, fires are not permitted when the county of Kerr has issued a county-wide burn ban or when there is an exceptional drought. It is against the rules to scavenge for firewood on the property.  

Near the showers at the campground, there is a constrained supply of firewood available for use. If you need a significant amount of wood for use, please bring your supply. It is unsafe to start fires under or among tree branches or adjacent to wooden buildings. 

Fires must always be attended to by someone, and they must be put out before leaving the campsite or going to bed. It is also suggested to share fires whenever it is possible to do. Alongside the campfires, there are water buckets and burlap available for use just outside the primary campground showers as an additional safety measure.

When Camping

When compared to a state park, the campground is more rustic; but, if you come prepared, it may be a really enjoyable experience. Camping in a tent does not need you to make reservations. Put your tent up wherever in the campground you discover an area that appeals to you and makes you feel at ease.  

Even though the Campground at Quiet Valley Ranch is one of the more crowded areas of the property on the weekends, it is still one of the best places in the world to meet new people. Simply treat one another with respect, and you will have the time of your lives together.

Parking at the Festival

Tickets to the festival come with free parking in the general parking areas of any of the two parking lots that the festival uses. The parking lot, the campground, and all points in between are all accessible to guests using the Kerrtesy Karts that are provided. There is a protected transportation stop for Kerrtesy Karts located in the middle of the main parking lot, in addition to several that are located in the campground.

Vehicle and Trailer Parking at the Campground

The campsite has space for 92 recreational vehicles or RVs. There is often a waiting list for these Festival sites because reservations are required and there are limits placed on their use. 

The festival strongly discourages automobile parking at the Campground to maximize the amount of space available for tents. Campground Parking Permits can be purchased at the main Ticket Booth for a fee of $25 per day. These permits are valid for any amount of time spent at the campground. The cost of electricity is not included in campground parking permits. 

People who enter a campground to sleep in their car or trailer at their campsite are required to obtain a Sleeper Vehicle Permit at the entrance station.  There is a set fee of $25 for a Sleeper Vehicle Permit, regardless of the length of your stay inside the park. This fee does not include access to the campground’s electrical outlets, but it is good for as long as the vehicle remains stationary within the campground. 

If a vehicle or trailer leaves the campground, a new Sleeper Vehicle Permit costing an extra $25 will be required each time the vehicle or trailer returns to the park.

Facts About the Kerrville Folk Festival You Did Not Know

  • The Kerrville Folk event is a music event that takes place at Quiet Valley Ranch in the vicinity of Kerrville, Texas, throughout the late spring and early summer for a total of 18 consecutive days. Since 1972, this event has been held on an annual basis.
  • Every year, the event is attended by approximately 30,000 people.
  • The festival lays a significant focus on songwriting, even though it showcases a wide range of musical styles in its performances. The purpose of these festivals is to raise awareness about up-and-coming artists while also providing audience members with the opportunity to witness both new and established performers.
  • The New Folk Competition is a competition that takes place once a year to uncover talented new singer-songwriters. A total of 800 submissions were reviewed, and 32 contestants were chosen as finalists to perform two of their original songs during an afternoon performance on the stage of the Threadgill Theater.
  • The Kerrville Folk event has been held annually without interruption since its inception in 1972, making it the nation’s oldest music event of its sort.

Reasons to Attend the Kerrville Folk Festival

  • The event takes place on a ranch in the Hill Country that is located south of Kerrville. It is only one hour away from San Antonio and two hours away from Austin.
  • It has been held every year without interruption for almost half a century, making it the music festival with the longest history in North America.
  • During the early stages of their careers, a significant number of singer-songwriters from the state of Texas made their mark at the event.
  • This is a fun event for the whole family, with separate activities planned for children and adults of all ages.
  • The festival provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about Kerrville and its many attractions, which range from retail therapy to activities like kayaking and hiking in the great outdoors.
  • They have workshops that you can participate in to improve your singing or guitar playing if you’ve been meaning to do so. Keep an eye out for beer and wine lectures, in addition to yoga lessons.
  • On-site catering is provided, and the event planners make every effort to offer a diverse selection of cuisines to cater to attendees’ individual preferences.
  • The location features an on-site artisan village that is open only on the weekends and sells a variety of handcrafted goods, ranging from ceramics to fashion accessories.
  • The festival serves as a bridge between the culture of the Hill Country and the rest of the globe since attendees come from all over the world to witness singer-songwriters perform live.
  • Being outside is only one aspect of what the Campground has to offer, though. It is a place for impromptu jam sessions, as well as a place to mix and mingle with other people who enjoy music.

Conclusion

Folk music, blues, bluegrass, acoustic rock, and jazz are included in this genre. At the Kerrville Folk Festival, you’ll be able to hear just about anything. This yearly custom has been going strong for more than half a century, and during that time it has provided a platform for aspiring musicians and songwriters to share their work alongside veterans of the music industry. 

Over the course of 18 days, it features evening performances in addition to daytime activities such as guided bike rides, group treks, artisan beer, and wine seminars, as well as lessons and workshops that are ideal for improving your talents. The Kerrville Folk Festival boasts a program of more than 50 musicians and offers attendees a wide variety of other things to see and do. There is something for everyone at this year’s festival.

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