Bishop Hill Midsommar Music Festival kicks off Saturday

Bishop Hill Midsommar Music Festival
Visitors dance around the Maypole during a Midsommar Music Festival in Bishop Hill. CREDIT BISHOP HILL HERITAGE ASSOCIATON

BISHOP HILL, Illinois – Bishop Hill will host its 2023 Midsommar Music Festival this weekend. It’s a two-day, free, family-friendly event that runs this year from Saturday-Sunday, June 24-25. 

Highlights include concerts in the park, a Scandinavian folk dance workshop, a Swedish Maypole celebration and more. Festival-goers are urged to bring a lawn chair to join the celebration of this Swedish holiday in the historic former colony located in Henry County, festival organizers said in a news release.

Free concerts at the village park gazebo will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. The lineup includes: Black Hawk Pipes and Drums; Emily the Band; Hammer and Pick; Idle Oath; and Sarah and the Underground. 

At 4 p.m. attendees are invited to decorate the Maypole with flowers and to join the procession, which begins in the park and ends at the Colony School. There visitors can join in the Maypole dancing and have refreshments provided by the Bishop Hill Vasa Lodge.

While you’re dining, visitors can enjoy a taste of Sweden by watching a group of demonstration dancers led by caller Gail Hintze who will also teach the dances. Dancing is a folk tradition that once was an integral part of the life of most Swedes, according to the historic site’s release.

The Midsommer Quartet is a featured act at the 2023 Bishop Hill Midsommar Music Festival June 24.25.

The free musical performances begin again at 11 a.m. Sunday and acts include: Barry Cloyd and Brian “Fox” Ellis performing “An Encounter with the Green Man: A Celtic Summer  Solstice Celebration;” Bucky Halker; the Midsommar Quartet from Chicago; Chris Vallillo; and the Nordland  Band. 

Attendees can learn new dance steps or just listen to the music at the Nordland Band’s 12:30 p.m. workshop in the Dairy Building. The worship is free and open to the public. 

The Vasa National Archives, which is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and is a block south of the park, will offer a Midsummer Respite featuring drinks, snacks and a make-and-take clay sculpture station both days of the festival. The public is welcome to view exhibits, enjoy some light refreshments, and make a clay sculpture to take home. 

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, Vasa National Archives,  Bishop Hill Vasa Lodge #683, and area businesses.

Regional Media is the major media sponsor. Funding is provided by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency.

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from Henry County, approved by the Henry County Board, also helped finance the event. For directions and more information, visit here or call (309) 927-3899.

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