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WoodyFest Returns To Okemah After An All-Virtual 2020

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Last year would have been the first time in 23 years nothing would have taken place...
Maddie Gregory

This is No Cover, a production of KOSU and Oklahoma State University and hosted by Matthew Viriyapah.

The annual festival honoring the legacy and music of legendary Oklahoma singer, Woody Guthrie, is returning to his hometown. Last year's Woody Guthrie Folk Festival — affectionately known as WoodyFest — went completely virtual. But this year, musicians like Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Patty Griffin and Grammy-nominated Mary Gauthier will take the stage in addition to Oklahoma artists like Samantha Crain, John Fullbright and Mike McClure.

WoodyFest will also feature a children's festival featuring a ukulele and harmonica class, as well as a family-friendly concert.

There will be panel discussions on songwriting and the history of prejudice around Okemah and the lynching of Laura Nelson and her son on May 24, 1911, outside the town.

A full lineup and schedule can be found on the festival website.

Listen above to hear WoodyFest's media chair Maddie Gregory talk about the artists performing, how the festival is taking precautions and the new events and panels.

On the changes made for this year

I kind of hate the phrase 'new normal.'

Last year would have been the first time in 23 years nothing would have taken place...

Since we did the first virtual aspect last year, we plan to continuing that. Just to kind of help, if people aren't able to attend in person, and also just increase accessibility if somebody is just physically unable to come and help our mission of promoting Woody Guthrie's life and legacy as best we can.

We'll also have 'vaccinated' stickers and arm bands.

For instance, I'm a high risk person and I think we have a lot of high risk people within our community. And I think it will help put people at ease.

On continuing Woody Guthrie's legacy

Our mission is to help with education and keeping his music alive and keeping his legacy alive. We try and help raise money for the Huntington's Disease Association of Oklahoma. That's the disease he eventually succumbed to.

So I think that's it hard to say what has changed specifically over the years in terms of our mission. But I think it's just doing what we can, whether it's 'let's make it virtual, let's just make it work or let's limit capacity' — just doing what we can to keep it going.

Music featured in this episode:

  1. Woody Guthrie - This Land is Your Land
  2. Woody Guthrie - A Picture From Life's Other Side
  3. Woody Guthrie - Dusty Old Dust

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Matthew Viriyapah is KOSU's production assistant and host of the podcast, No Cover. He initially came to the station as a production intern in May 2019.
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