Bishop Hill’s Midsommar Music Festival will return Saturday, June 26, with a strong line-up of musical performers.
In Sweden, Midsommar is one of the most important days of the year, rivaling Christmas with its festive spirit and traditions. Bishop Hill honors its Swedish roots by hosting its own Midsommar celebration.
Highlights of this all-day event include park concerts, a Swedish Maypole celebration, and a fiddle workshop as the village celebrates its 175th anniversary this year.
The free concerts in the village park gazebo will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. The lineup includes Black Hawk Pipes and Drums, Hammer & Pick, Jazz on the Side, and Chris Vallillo.
Performing on six-string and bottleneck slide guitars and harmonica, Vallillo weaves original, contemporary, and traditional songs and narratives into a compelling and entertaining portrait of the history and lifestyles of the Midwest. In 2016, his latest show and recording, “Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement” charted at No. 6 on the folk charts.
Immediately after the Main Stage performances, everyone is invited to decorate the Maypole with flowers and to join the procession. Accordionist Ernie Sandquist will lead the Maypole procession beginning in the park and ending at the Colony School.
After the parade, everyone can join in on Midsommar ring dancing. About 4:30 p.m., learn a Swedish tune and a couple old-time tunes from fiddler Claudia Kaufman and her husband, banjo player Gary Kaufman, at the Midsommar Fiddle Workshop and Jam. In fair weather, the workshop will convene outside the Colony School; rain will send the group inside, where COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed. Workshop fee is $10. The tunes will be taught by ear.
At the close of the workshop, Claudia and Gary will lead an old-time jam. Everyone can bring an instrument and join the group for a one-hour jam beginning about 5:30 p.m. Listeners are welcome.
The Vasa National Archives, a short block from the park, will be offering a Midsummer Respite featuring drinks, snacks, and a make-and-take clay station. The public is welcome to view exhibits, enjoy some light refreshments, and make a clay sculpture to take home.
The Vasa National Archives will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Filling Station will host a bluegrass band on the front porch. From 1-3 p.m. the Tap Root Wranglers will play.
The Midsommar Music Festival is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Arts Council, Bishop Hill Heritage Association, Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Bishop Hill Old Settler’s Association, Bishop Hill Vasa Lodge 683, and area businesses. Partial funding for the festival is provided by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation. Social distancing is encouraged but masks are not required for outdoor activities.