Teach your children

Folks of Dayton Music Festival for a good cause

 By Kate E Lore

Photo: Electroglide performing during the inaugural Folks of Dayton Music Festival in 2012 – the festival returns this Saturday, Sept. 14; photo credit: Craig Ransom

When it comes to music genres, certain sounds carry certain associations. For folk music, what often comes to mind is the feeling of knowing somebody. When listening to folk you come to expect something insightful, emotional that might hit close to home. Even with some of the biggest acts out there, people tend to feel this close level connection. Perhaps this comes from the tendency for folk music to be simple, raw, deeply personal and played from the heart. What could be more appropriate for a music festival that is raising money for A Special Wish Foundation, Inc. – A charity where children with life-threatening disorders are given an opportunity to go out and fulfill some lifelong dream?

The Folks of Dayton Music Festival is coming around for its second year. The event will be held Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Polish Club Park, 3690 Needmore Road. Gates will open at noon, while the music starts at 2 p.m. This year’s lineup features the Scotty Bratcher Band, the Rosie Carson Band, the Brown Street Breakdown and Higgins Madewell with special guest Tom Leary. Surprisingly this event rose from the ashes of a very different festival.

“We did a thing in Dayton called Fajita Fest, for a total of over 20 years, but for the last 12 years it was for the Special Wish Foundation,” explained Mike Babb, founder of Folks of Dayton Music Fest. “We had bands and a car show and all this stuff going on. As we were all getting older, it was just way too much work; we cooked all the food, we literally did everything. It got to be too much so we decided to no longer have Fajita Fest.”

While the other volunteers were set to wait a few years and take their time finding a new charity, Babb decided to take it upon himself to start a brand new festival here in Dayton. This one would be largely community-based. Babb aimed for a fun event that wouldn’t be so service-oriented and demanding on the volunteers. Folks of Dayton Music Festival was pulled together by the survivors of Fajita Fest, all lead by Mike Babb.

“The bottom line is we want to give back to the children’s organization that is Special Wish Foundation. That is the main function, it is first and foremost,” said Babb.

The event last year was popular enough to warrant a second year, and it’s easy to understand why.

“You invite people to the park, they come they listen to music, they do what they would probably normally do anyway, and it’s all going for a cause.” Babb said.

The music this year will feature one more band than last year. The lineup for this year in general has been receiving a lot of buzz.

“The big draw this year is that Tom Leary is coming over from England. He’s a fiddle player who’s played with people in Jethro Tull and Electric Light Orchestra. He’s famous and he’s well known in England, but maybe over here not so much. He’s coming over the play with Higgins-Madewell, which is a huge thing,” explained Babb. “Last year, two of our three bands were from Cincinnati. Now [we have] Scotty Bratcher, who is basically affiliated with Dayton.”

Although this event is only a toddler in its second year, it’s already showing growth and there are some great people helping to push it along.

“Back with Fajita Fest, we used to sponsor a specific child, and within the 12 years we raised well over $100,000 from everything that we did. We sent many, many kids on wishes,” said Babb. “This year, Special Wish, the executive director and all of them, we’re going to allow them to run the food this year. They get to keep everything they make.”

Having been doing this for many years, Mike Babb has sacrificed a lot of time and effort. However, it is all well worth it to him. Babb says he looks forward to the people most of all.

“The new people who are just now catching on say, ‘Wow! Who are these people where has this been?’” Babb said. “It’s real laid back. The focus is what it’s about. Ya know, we’re here to have fun we’re here to enjoy ourselves, and by that it’s effortless in that fact that we’re raising money for such a good cause. And you really don’t have to do that much other than enjoy yourself. Our tagline is ‘Regular folks making a difference.’”

This festival might have a lot going on, but it never forgets its cause: the children.

“We can only wish that A Special Wish would go out of business, meaning there was no more sick kids, but that’s not how it’s going to be so why not do our best to make a difference?” said Babb.

The Folks of Dayton Music Festival is truly a community event. It’s set to be a laid back and fun festival. The cause is important and it’s easy to help – just come have a good time.

According to Babb, “You can be a great community partner just by showing up.”


The Folks of Dayton Music Festival takes place Saturday, Sept. 14 from noon-8 p.m. at the Polish Club Park, 3690 Needmore Rd. Gates Open at noon, music starts at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under. For more information, please visit facebook.com/FolksOfDaytonMusicFestival.


Learn more about Kate E Lore and see her web-comics and blog at KateELore.com. Kate can be reached at KateLore@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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