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HomeArtCatch the Will McLean Music Festival this weekend at their new permanent...

Catch the Will McLean Music Festival this weekend at their new permanent home

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Now entering its 33rd year, The Will McLean Festival—March 10-12 at Florida Sand Music Ranch, 85 Myers Road in Brooksville–is continuing its rich and rhythmic tradition of introducing Florida Folk Music to the masses and of celebrating a classic musical artform. And this year, the festival that celebrates down-home music has a home all its own.

A family-friendly event for all ages, The Will McLean Music Festival honors the Father of Florida Folk via music performed by 90 acts on three covered stages. Music will include original and traditional songs in Americana, Blues, Celtic, Bluegrass, Country, and Modern Folk. Also featured will be workshops, several jam areas, a youth program, a children’s area, and winners of a new Florida song contest. Day tickets are Fri. $20, Sat. $25, Sun. $15. Children under 12 are free. Learn more at https://willmclean.com/music-festival/will-mclean-music-festival
“The festival is at its new permanent home of Florida Sand Music Ranch, formerly Sertoma Youth Ranch,” explained Kathy Wallace, Secretary/Publicity Chair of the Will McLean Foundation. “The festival is a product of the Will McLean Foundation, which supports youth scholarships and Florida Folk musicians.”

Lynn Wodjenski, who oversees tickets, fees, and camping for the festival, is excited about the fact that—in the wake of three decades—the festival now has an official site and headquarters owned by the Will McLean Foundation.
“We have our own home now,” she said. “We’re so excited.”

The festival’s namesake is a folk legend who called the Sunshine State his home.
“Will McLean was known as Florida’s Troubadour and the Father of Florida Folk,” said Wallace. “The festival is in the tradition of Will McLean’s Music and songs.”

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“There are workshops, jams, and singalongs,” she said. “A children’s area has crafts on Saturday and Sunday, and a Youth Musicians area is mentoring young musicians.”

Wodjenski says that a number of popular Florida folk artists will perform at the festival.
“We’ll be welcoming folk favorites like our president, Doug Spears, Amy Carol Webb, Passerine, Bob Patterson, Art Crummer, The Ashley Gang, and Mary Anne Dinella and Friends,” she said.

And this year, the festival will feature even more dancing—and even deeper significance.
“A Contra dance has been added to the festival on Saturday night at 8 pm. In recognition of the Rosewood anniversary,” said Wallace. “The Rosewood Children’s choir will perform on Saturday. Rosewood Centennial Project Remembered through Song and Story will be presented on Sunday from 3:30 to 4:30 and will be followed by an open mic of songs and stories.”

Lynn Wodjenski says that while tradition truly lies at the root of the Will McLean Festival, the younger generation of emerging musicians will be honored and represented. “Everyone is so happy about the Contra dancing,” she said. “And our youth program is exploding. We’re going to have more than 30 young musicians in our Young Performers Program.”

The festival also features a “Best New Florida Song Contest.” “This year, a record 80 songwriters entered the contest,” said Wallace. “The top three winners will be featured Saturday evening.” Wodjenski sees The Will McLean Festival, a volunteer-run happening founded by Margaret Longhill, as a truly interactive experience. “This is a festival where you can come to a campfire singalong and sit down beside your folk idol, singing with them if you choose,” she said. “No one is turned away.”

Wallace agrees. “This festival has food vendors, craft vendors, and reasonable ticket prices for a great all-day experience,” she said. “Come join us, meet the musicians up close and personal. It’s a very family-friendly atmosphere in a beautiful wooded environment. It’s a great time to get away and enjoy the real Florida.”

Festival Hours & Ticket Information
Friday: Noon – 10 pm
$20 at the gate
Sat: 10 am – 11 pm
$25 at the gate
Sun: 10 am -6 pm
$15 at the gate

Above all, Wodjenski sees The Will McLean Festival as the celebration and expression of an art form.
“This is original music by true singers/songwriters,” she said. “It’s art. And it is what you want it to be.”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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