Free folk music festival at DeKalb’s Gurler House

Dave Balika & Friends entertain the crowd at a previous Gurler Heritage Association Folk Music Fest in DeKalb. This year's event is June 15.
Dave Balika & Friends entertain the crowd at a previous Gurler Heritage Association Folk Music Fest in DeKalb. This year's event is June 15.

DeKALB – The sounds of hammer dulcimers, stunning vocals, ukuleles and more will bring bluegrass, folk and American roots music to life at the historic Gurler House from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Free and open to the public, the 19th annual Folk Music Festival will take place on Gurler House’s shaded lawn, located at 205 Pine St. in DeKalb. The family friendly afternoon will offer something for everyone, featuring four performances:

• 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m., Dave Balika & Friends

• 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., The Conley Trio with the Wild Blue Ukulele Orchestra

• 1:30 to 2:50 p.m., Joe Jencks

• 3 to 4:30 p.m., Bill Robinson & Friends

There will be a food and drink tent featuring Chicago-style hot dogs from Inboden’s Meat Market, grilled portabella “mushroom burgers,” veggie kebabs, chips, homemade baked goods and cold drinks.

Local artisans will sell their wares, including fine woodwork and ceramics. Any donations and the sales of food and drink help support the upkeep of the Gurler House as a landmark and community space.

Kicking off the festival at 11:30 a.m., Dave Balika and Friends will delight the audience with dulcimer-led bluegrass melodies. Fans of the Gurler Folk Fest will remember Dave Balika and Friends as a long-time favorite, and Balika has been the foundation of Folk Music Fest as its dedicated sound engineer for many years.

Next in line at 12:30 p.m. is the Conley Trio with the Wild Blue Ukulele Orchestra. The Conley Trio are Jen, Ellen and Nelle Conley, blending classical vocal performance and traditional folk music. This year, the trio will join the Wild Blue Ukulele Orchestra. Using a full range of ukuleles – from soprano and banjolele to U-Bass and electrics – the Wild Blues perform fully orchestrated, primarily house-made arrangements of songs in a variety of genres.

At 1:30 p.m., DeKalb native and international touring performer Joe Jencks will perform. He is an award-winning songwriter and celebrated vocalist known for his performances of musical beauty, social consciousness and spiritual exploration. A 20-year veteran of the international Folk circuit, Jencks has released 15 CDs.

At 3:30 p.m., Bill Robinson and Friends will play into the late afternoon with another taste of the hammer dulcimer. The dulcimer adapts well to all types of music ranging from country to classical, jazz, bluegrass, folk and contemporary.

Bring a blanket or chair. There is free street parking available, as well as free overflow parking at the First Lutheran Church parking lot east of the Gurler House. In the event of rain, the festival will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb, located just two blocks from the Gurler House at 158 N. Fourth St.

For more information, visit the Gurler House Facebook page at, or email

This free, family friendly, outdoor event is supported by a grant from the Mary E. Stevens Concert and Lecture Fund, with additional support by Big John & Gordon’s Hardware.

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