Christie Babbitt
Groups from Mexico, Serbia, Romania and Tahiti will be among those at Springville's World Folkfest.

SPRINGVILLE — Cultures from around the world, including Poland, Canada, the South Pacific islands, Peru, Serbia, Ireland and the United States will be in Springville this year for the 22nd annual Springville World Folkfest.

In addition, a free street dance will be offered to the public during the week. The annual street dance has become a popular part of the festival, with dancers and musicians teaching the public simple folk dances. People of many cultures join together at the event to dance to folk songs and Top 40 hits as well.

The Springville World Folkfest is the product of faith, foresight and hard work on the part of people — mostly volunteers — who had a great vision of an annual cultural exchange based on folk arts.

With a format similar to folk festivals popular in Europe, the Springville World Folkfest held its first performances in August of 1986 on a wooden stage constructed over home plate at a Springville baseball field.

Performances eventually moved to the

Spring Acres Arts Park, a Springville City outdoor amphitheater designed specifically to accommodate Folkfest performances. With continual improvements over the years in the Arts Park's lighting, sound, stage and support facilities, the arts park has become a state-of-the-art performance venue that now hosts major concert events in addition to the Folkfest.

More than 200,000 people have attended Folkfest performances since the first Springville World Folkfest in 1986. In 1999, the Springville World Folkfest was honored by being featured on CBS's national morning television show "Good Morning America." Musicians and dancers from more than 45 countries have traveled to Springville to participate in Folkfest performances.

All of the participating cultures perform during each evening show. Often, the dance groups have a large selection of costumes and dances to offer and perform different dances on various nights of the festival, making each show unique.

Folkfest performers and support personnel traveling to Springville for the festival will be housed in private homes in the Springville and Mapleton area. In those homes, the international visitors will be exposed to American customs and family life and the host families will learn first-hand about life in other parts of our rapidly shrinking world.

"We want to share the excitement and fun of the festival with all," said Martin Conover, chairman of the festival's board of directors. "Once you participate or even just attend, you want to get more involved."

If you go:

What: Springville World Folkfest

When: 8 p.m., July 12-19 (street dance at 200 E. 400 South, July 16)

Where: Spring Acres Arts Park northeast of Springville High, 620 S. 1350 East, Springville

Cost: $7/$3 children 12-under (purchase at the gate)

Phone: 489-1067