Cheryl Wheeler is a People’s Choice Returning Artist featured on the Moab Folk Festival’s compilation video. [Photo courtesy of Moab Folk Festival]

The 2020 Moab Folk Festival is happening on Saturday, Nov. 6 and Sunday, Nov. 7. But, due to concerns around the safety of in-person gatherings amidst the ongoing pandemic, festival events will be virtual this year.

The festival was founded by Moab local Melissa Schmaedick in 2003 and lineups mix folk, roots, Americana, bluegrass, blues, and world music. Performers have included Judy Collins, Richard Thompson, Bruce Cockburn, Tom Paxton and Martin Sexton, and many others.

“While we are sad to not be gathering in person, we are happy that this virtual format allows us to offer unprecedented accessibility to our event for free,” festival organizers said in a statement, adding, “We are striving to keep as many of our traditions alive as possible.”

One such tradition is the People’s Choice Returning Artist. Each year, audiences vote for their favorite performer; the winning performer earns a return slot in the next year’s festival. The Moab Folk Festival has created a compilation video of People’s Choice winners through the years that will air both days of the festival at 7 p.m. on the Moab Folk Festival website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The audio will be broadcast simultaneously on KZMU radio, 90.1 and 106.7 FM. Videos will be archived on the Moab Folk Festival’s website and YouTube channel.

Saturday’s video will feature People’s Choice winners from 2003 to 2009 including Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman, Jonathan Byrd, Sloan Wainwright, Kenny White, David Olney, Ferron, Harry Manx and Peter Mulvey. Sunday’s presentation will highlight 2010 thru 2019’s winners: Cheryl Wheeler, Ellis, John Fullbright, Mark Erelli, Penny & Sparrow, Hubby Jenkins and May Erlewine. Many of the People’s Choice Returning Artists have donated songs specifically recorded for this event with messages for the audience.

Free workshops and interviews are also festival traditions. This year, Moab Music Festival board member and singer-songwriter Cosy Sheridan is keeping that tradition alive by hosting a “singer-songwriter in the round” event live held via Zoom. She will be joined by John Gorka, Tom Prasada-Rao and Antje Duvekot to engage in conversation and music-making. This event may also be streamed on the Moab Folk Festival’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and website.

Sheridan is also the founder of Moab Folk Camp, which usually hosts in-person adult music education camps the week prior to the Moab Folk Festival. This year, Moab Folk Camp is holding online classes only on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1; see moabfolkcamp.com for more info.

Raffle prizes will be available this year. Participants have a chance to win a Fender acoustic 12-string guitar, gift baskets from The Synergy Company, and a CD basket with the latest CD from each of our 2020 virtual performers. Raffle tickets and festival merchandise, including the 2020 edition of the Moab Folk Festival t-shirt, is available via the online store which you can access from the Moab Folk Festival’s website.

The website also has links to donate to the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival, a nonprofit organization, or to make donations to or purchases from individual artists.

Cassie Paup the managing director stressed that the pandemic has created a difficult financial time for the Moab Folk Festival and performers alike, and encouraged supporters to donate what they can – especially to the artists themselves.

“2020 has been a challenge and we hope to enter 2021 strong and ready to listen to live music together again,” organizers said.

For more information, go to www.moabfolkfestival.com or call the Moab Folk Festival office at 435-259-3198.

“We are striving to keep as many of our traditions alive as possible.”

– Moab Folk Festival Statement

When: Nov. 6 and 7

Where: www.moabfolkfestival.com; bit.ly/mffyoutube; Moab Folk Festival Facebook page

Cost: Donations accepted

Contact: 435-259-3198