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Arts & Culture

Kerrville Folk Festival Kicks Off Without Founder Rod Kennedy

Merri Lu Park

The Kerrville Folk Festival is one of the biggest and longest-running folk festivals in the nation and Dalis Allen has been there for most of them.

"It’s really more than a festival; it’s a phenomenon," Allen said.

Allen produces the festival at the Quiet Valley Ranch, where extensive campgrounds allow people to pitch tents and play their own campfire music after the night’s stage performances are done.

“It’s so much more than just sitting and listening to music," said Allen. "It’s quite a community in and of itself.”

I asked about any changes, given that festival founder Rod Kennedy died in April.

"We’ll be singing a lot and talking about him a lot, and just honoring what he created,” she said.

I had spoken to Allen shortly after Rod’s passing, and I noted to her that the man she described just did not sound like someone who would create a folk festival. She laughed heartily.

"Well, he wasn’t! Initially, at least. He was a Republican businessman who drove race cars and owned television stations and radio stations," Allen said. "He was just such a larger-than-life person, who I always said about him that he would have no regrets on his death bed because he really lived life full-out."

The Kerrville Folk Festival, which starts today, May 22, is 18 days and nights and features names like Steve Forbert, Jimmy La Fave, Judy Collins, Brewer and Shipley, Peter Yarrow, Terri Hendrix and many more. Allen added to the list:

“We’ve got Gary P. Nunn and Bob Livingston. A cast of thousands,” she said.

But there was one last thing that Allen requested of me.

“We have children’s concerts. Make sure they know it’s family friendly,” she said.