Welcome to 11 years of Oly Old Time!
OLY ARTS provides a complete guide to The Oly Old Time Festival‘s 11th annual event. In 2019, The Oly Old Time Festival takes place in three locations throughout Olympia, and plans to welcome nearly 1,000 attendees. This year, the Oly Old Time Festival runs Feb. 14-17 with venues at South Sound Grange and in two locations in downtown Olympia — First Christian Church and Arbutus Folk School. Get all the details here, including:
- Event schedule
- Location guide
- Overview of the festival’s history
- Preview of all the performers
- Oly Old Time Festival’s official website
READ OLY ARTS Special Oly Old Time Festival Edition HERE
A short history, as told to OLY ARTS by The Oly Old Time Festival founders
In 2008, a group of people who enjoyed old-time music—music played with fiddle, banjo and other traditional stringband instruments—began jamming in Olympia homes. At one of the monthly jams, the idea for a local, winter festival was born. The first festival was largely organized by Carolyn Arnold, Billie Burlock, Ardas Hassler, Laura Hurson, Mischa Moren, Callie Jan Mills, Erik Neatherlin, T-Claw and Emily Teachout. The early team also had input from Vince Brown, John Flory, Anthea Lawrence and Ray Leach.
The originators of The Oly Old Time Festival knew many great musicians and square-dance callers. A limited schedule of eight workshops took place at The Evergreen State College. Dancers packed the floor into the wee hours, and there was jamming in every corner. The jamming went on literally all night long. The founders knew they’d created something special and would want to make it an annual event.
Within the first five years, the festival team was able to bring in featured performers from the East Coast and Appalachian-Mountain states. The current planning committee is now a subcommittee of the Arbutus Folk School board of directors and is composed of Julie Bennett, Jerome Cox, Jerrod Davis, Juli Kelen, Tom Murrett, Erik Neatherlin, Jesse Partridge, Shanty Slater and Emily Teachout.
The festival is dedicated to learning, teaching and sharing traditional, old-time music and dance. It’s supported by individual and business sponsorships as well as ticket sales. The event draws an audience from as far away as Alaska, California, Idaho, Utah and British Columbia. The festival’s program of free workshops keeps old-time music and dance accessible, inviting and thriving.