Bits 'n' Pieces: Folk fest grows from early roots

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photoWayne Hoffman will host the first Clark County Folk Festival on Sept. 14.

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Wayne Hoffman lives to spread his love of acoustic music.

He started out playing open mic events. Eventually, he found himself organizing and hosting them in places like La Center and Ridgefield. Along the way, he got so closely connected with so many local musicians, he said, that in retirement he's become a voluntary email clearinghouse for their performances and activities.

"I've been doing small folk festivals for 10 years," said Hoffman, 63. "I started one at the North Clark Historical Museum in Amboy as a benefit for the museum. I would just get the musicians together and set up the sound." After nine years, though, the museum board decided to discontinue that series, and Hoffman went looking for a new venue.

He found one in the new Moulton Falls Winery at 31101 N.E. Railroad Ave., Yacolt. That's where Hoffman will host his biggest, best event: the first Clark County Folk Festival, set for 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 and children are free. The seating is "festival freestyle," Hoffman said -- in other words, bring a blanket or lawn chair because you're on the lawn.

Six acoustic performers are scheduled to play 45-minute sets: Dan Weber, the Benign Band (featuring Hoffman), Three Together, Sky in the Road, Tom May and Jeanne Walker.

Quarterbacking your own folk festival means taking on logistics -- like insurance and advertising -- that Hoffman never had to mess with before, "but things are coming together," he said. "We've got a huge covered canopy in case there's rain or hot sun. The city of Yacolt is really into supporting this. They'll provide a portable stage that's 12 feet wide by 30 feet long."

Ten percent of ticket sales will support the American Cancer Society's North Clark Relay for Life, he said. The Clark County Folk Festival was recently approved as a nonprofit, he said, and the performers are basically doing the show for free. But if the first Clark County Folk Festival is a big success, he might be able to pay notables from farther afield to appear next time. Having an open jam would be fun too, he said.

Visit clarkcountyfolkfestival.com for more information and tickets. If you're interested in signing up for Hoffman's acoustic-network emails, drop him a line at wakjh@aol.com — but beware, he keeps pretty busy at it, he said, you can expect to "get swamped." There are approximately 300 people on his list right now, he said.

"I just do it for the love of the music, to keep people interested in live music and support the people who are trying to make a living at it," he said.

— Scott Hewitt

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.