Dancers from around the world perform on the opening night of the Springville World Folk Festival

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Two dancers from the 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 show off their skills until 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 of the founding group members.

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

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

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

This year’s festival featured bands from Estonia, France, Indonesia, the Basque Country, Poland, Romania, Mexico and several bands from the United States. It took seven flights, 10 bus transfers and 80 local trips to bring 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 the help of about 300 local volunteers.

First Nation’s Morning Star opened the Wednesday night show with a prayer, blessing all the performers and people involved in this year’s festival. The group then performed an indigenous hoop dance, in which 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 led by spouses Greg and Marie Tucker, also performed a classic clogging routine. The couple and their four children starred 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 a niece.

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

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

Utah County families have also opened their homes for international artists to stay and perform in Beehive State. This year, 70 families offered accommodation to the dancers.

“To everyone in Utah County who has opened your homes and hearts to welcome international guests, we appreciate your willingness to support this exciting event in such a personal way,” Packard said.

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

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