Dancers from all over the world perform at the Springville World Folk Festival’s opening night

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Two dancers from Ballet Folkloric Quetzalcoatl perform at the Springville World Folkfest. (Mckell Park)

The Springville World Folkfest had its opening night on July 27, and will feature 250 dancers who traveled to Utah from 10 different countries to showcase their talents until the closing night this Saturday. The event will include performances, food trucks, activities and more.

The festival was founded in 1986, after a group was determined to create a folk dance experience in Utah. Mary Bee Jensen, founder of BYU’s International Folk Dance Ensemble, was one member of the founding group.

“This unique Utah festival gives each of us the opportunity to further broaden our artistic and cultural understanding and express the feeling of love we have for one another as global neighbors on this beautiful earth,” Springville Mayor Matt Packard said.

Dance and musical ensembles performed for the crowd, celebrating their cultures and expressing their individual artistry.

“It really just makes you feel connected to the world,” attendee Jennifer Lowry said. “It makes you kind of forget about all the division and just focus on the good parts of being human.”

This year’s festival featured groups from Estonia, France, Indonesia, Basque Region, Poland, Romania, Mexico and several groups from the United States. It took seven flights, 10 bus transfers and 80 local rides to get each of the seven international folk dance groups to Springville, to make the event possible. The Springville World Folkfest took about 12 months to plan, eight months to schedule and help from around 300 local volunteers.

The group First Nation’s Morning Star opened the Wednesday night show with a prayer, blessing all the performers and people involved with this year’s festival. The group then showcased a native hoop dance, in which the performers used hoops to form a variety of static and dynamic shapes.

A member of the Morning Star group performs a traditional hoop dance. Morning Star has been performing at the festival since 1986. (Mckell Park)

Rocky Mountain Express, a group directed by husband and wife Greg and Marie Tucker also performed a classical clogging routine. The couple and their four children took part in a Geico commercial earlier this year.

Ahuna Ohano, a family music and dance group, performed a traditional hula, Fireknife and knife dance.The group is made up of a grandfather, his grandchildren and one niece.

“It’s so cool to see so much diversity and have it be in such a fun environment,” attendee Bella Johnson said. “You can’t help but appreciate how talented they are. It’s just so much fun.”

The event also featured an activity where kids could decorate their own world flag and several food trucks and photo backdrops for attendees to enjoy.

Families in Utah County also opened their homes for international performers to stay and perform in the Beehive state. This year, 70 families provided a place for the dancers to stay.

“To those throughout Utah County who have opened your homes and hearts to welcome international guests, we are thankful for your willingness to support this exciting event in such a personal way,” Packard said.

The festival has events and performances scheduled for every night until Saturday, July 30.

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