A group of Laotian, Hmong and Khmu women pose in traditional dress.

Summer is coming — strike up the band!

Parks' Folk & Traditional Arts Program hosts a full lineup of summer concerts and festivals

As June makes its grand entrance, many folks are excited to spend time in our parks and natural spaces. They’re eyeing their garages, spare rooms and storage closets, dragging out backpacks, boots, bicycles, jump ropes, horseshoes, camp stoves, kayaks and all the ingredients for a great outdoor season.

But, did you know WA state parks are also places to experience arts and culture?

Our Folk & Traditional Arts Program (FTAP) has been staging art, music and international events in our parks for 20 years! What started as an evening of fisher poetry at Fort Columbia in 2004 has blossomed into a lineup of summer concerts and festivals at more than 10 western and central state parks.

People sit on a hill overlooking a beach, watching a concert.
Cape Disappointment's Waikiki Beach hosts Saturday evenings of music from June through August.

Outdoor concerts

After a hot day of hiking, biking, exploring or mowing the lawn at home, not much says “relaxation” like a summer concert on the beach or next to an alpine lake!

This year, the long-loved American Roots concert series at Deception Pass, the Waikiki Beach concerts at Cape Disappointment and the newer Mountain Melodies series at Lake Wenatchee are back!

But for 2024, FTAP also added a concert series at Lincoln Rock State Park, aptly named Rhythm on the River.

A dock surrounded by trees facing a hill across a river.
Lincoln Rock on the Columbia River in central WA is the newest venue to host folk and world music concerts!

All four series feature musical traditions of the Pacific Northwest and their origins from around the world. The mostly local artists play folk and blues, Central and Latin American rhythms, Klezmer and Balkan  to name a few. The bands may give an impromptu dance lesson, tell stories or demonstrate traditional instruments during the show. Prepare to be surprised!

A maypole with onlookers and a brick building in the background
Skandia Midsommarfest at Saint Edward features a traditional maypole raising and dance.


In addition to the concerts, FTAP continues to co-host several festivals each year.

We are continuing our longstanding events, including Salish Sea Day at Deception Pass on June 8, Skandia Midsommarfest at Saint Edward June 30, United Communities of Laos at Lake Sammamish July 27 (main header image) and the Cambodian Festival at Saltwater Aug. 10.  

We're also proud to support the second-annual Iu Mien Festival at at Lake Sammamish on Aug. 24.

This fall, a new event joins the lineup. Be sure to check out the Ubuntu Nerudo Southern African Heritage festival at Lake Sammamish on Sept. 1.

Black American festivalgoers at Sundaes Outside
Sundaes Outside, paying homage to the Black American tradition of post-church ice cream socials, is happening June 9.

These festivals are put on by their communities and supported by FTAP. They feature traditional song, dance, art, textiles, fashion, food and friendship.

The festivals highlight many of the traditions that make up Washingtonian culture, from Indigenous groups that have lived here for time immemorial, to the early Scandinavian and Hispanic and Latino explorers, to the more recent immigrants who have made this state home.

The events are family-friendly and free to the public, though a Discover Pass is needed to park.

A group of dancers in colorful Mariachi costumes pose.
Mount Vernon Mariachi & Folklorico, a fan favorite, brings colorful music and dance to Lincoln Rock this August.

Fun, sun – and so much more!

Summer may be all about fun in the sun, but our FTAP supports Parks’ mission to connect Washingtonians with their cultural heritage, as well as with outdoor play.

Funded in part by grants from National Endowment for the Arts and the Washington State Parks Foundation, FTAP is integral to Parks’ core values of education; relationships with area tribes and community groups; and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Plus, it provides tons of great entertainment and supports our recreation mission.

We’re proud to provide access to folk and world music, stories, history and cultural traditions throughout our state. Come join us for these events this summer and fall!

A group of four musicians sit on the steps of a house.
The popular Whiskey Deaf Quartet will rock Deception Pass this August.

Originally published May 29, 2024

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