Founded by Rod Kennedy in 1972, the 50th Kerrville Folk Festival was celebrated in 2022 and continues to be a Mecca for the songwriting community.
Over the years entertainers and big-name artists such as Willie Nelson, the Indigo Girls, David Crosby, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Peter, Paul & Mary have appeared.
The Grassy Hill New Folk Competition for Emerging Songwriters has been an annual highlight of Kerrville Folk Festivals since 1973.
Some former New Folk Finalists who have gone on to achieve name recognition in the music industry include Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, John Gorka, David Wilcox, James McMurtry, Tish Hinojosa, Hal Ketchum, and so many others.
For 18 straight days and nights, the Festival offers concerts and activities for all ages that are focused on nurturing and developing artistic expression, especially the art of songwriting.
The Festival is held at Quiet Valley Ranch in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, just 9 miles south of Kerrville, TX. (It’s about an hour drive from San Antonio and a two-hour drive from Austin.)
The Festival is celebrated by a community who considers itself family and are always delighted to welcome new folks!
When gathered, it becomes the second largest community in Kerr county.
During the 18-day Festival, attendance is approximately 30,000, with guests coming from all over the world to experience the magic many simply call “Kerrville”.
Even so, each evening’s performance is attended by 800 to 3,000 guests, making everyone’s experience feel intimate.
Over 1500 outstanding singer-songwriters have been presented on the Festival’s stages. Through the years, the Kerrville stage has welcomed many nationally known artists, as New Folk Finalists, performers, and instructors in our schools and workshops.
While many folks come out just to see the evening shows, many say the heart and soul of the Festival is in the Campground. This is where folks can truly experience and appreciate the abundance of talent the community is blessed to have in their midst each year.
Impromptu jam sessions pop up at any time around campfires, or anywhere folks are willing to listen; it is a 24-hour-a-day treat for musicians and music enthusiasts alike.
In addition to evenings of live music, there are daytime activities such as children’s concerts, YAPI (Young Artists’ Performance Incubator), a universities campus songwriters competition, the annual Grassy Hill New Folk Competition, a songwriters school, workshops in ukulele, harmonica and guitar, hill country bike rides, canoe trips on the Guadalupe River, guided nature walks,
Texas wine and beer seminars, Saturday Shabbat services, and Sunday folk song services. There is something for everyone who enjoys music, camping, the outdoors, and making new friends.
Many choose to camp on the Ranch and say it’s the best way to experience the magic of the events. Some of the best music can be heard in the campgrounds 24-hours-a-day. There are 20 acres of scenic Hill Country campgrounds within walking distance of their outdoor theaters, vendors, and Chapel.
Clever Journeys Recommendations
Knowing the events will cause some crowdedness in Kerrville, here are our favorite picks for lodging and food in nearby Medina:
River Oaks Courts
Fully renovated and restored, River Oaks Courts is a historic landmark riverfront property within 12 minutes north on Highway 16 from Mansfield Park in quaint Medina, Texas.
The property features 11 rental units for overnight accommodations, mostly native stone cottages.
The Social Club is their onsite restaurant and bar, currently open Thursday through Saturday.
We usually stop in at least once a week to enjoy Chef Matt’s Southwestern Cobb salad, brisket tacos, chicken breast plate, burgers, wraps, loaded fries and more. Often we stay for the live music.
Their cafe and art gallery, Art House, offers coffee, teas, and house-made baked goods in addition to featuring beautiful artwork by notable Hill Country and Texan artists.
Right next door to Medina’s Love Creek Orchards and Apple Store, the Texas Blue Apple has recently been remodeled.
Its brilliant blue and white exterior gives it a storybook vibe the moment you approach.
Behind the home, there’s a wooden deck with outdoor furniture, a great place to sip morning coffee, discuss your day, or kick back and decompress.
Kids and pets can expend their almost boundless energy in the backyard, and there’s also a charcoal grill for tasty Texas-style cookouts.
A rustic ranch theme fills the interior, with barn-style doors and beautiful hardwood flooring.
The spacious living area includes a large and comfy couch, which faces a Roku-equipped smart TV.
For connectivity, there’s WiFi service and a large table for when you need to be online. The full kitchen is equipped with modern appliances, a dining room table that seats six guests, and all the cooking and serving ware you’ll need at mealtimes.
In Medina, we recommend:
From the festival, look for this cafe on your right and across from the post office.
Good Hill Country eats, Keese’s usually offers a delicious daily special from 11 a.m. til closing time at 2 p.m. weekdays. Some of our favorite lunches include ribeye steaks, brisket plates, Chicken salad sandwiches, chili and stew.
We are frequent breakfast diners and enjoy conversations with both local residents and motorcyclists passing through to ride the infamous Twisted Sisters.
I love Karen Keese’s special breakfast tacos while Dodie enjoys her bacon and egg sandwiches. She also serves traditional Hill Country bacon/sausage, eggs, pancakes and biscuits/gravy. The coffee is always good at breakfast.
Being in Keese’s is like being in a museum with local and old-time memorabilia decor.
Whether you come out for a day, a weekend, or for the entire Festival, you’ll find that the music, the ambiance, and the spiritual optimism combine to make this America’s most beloved and respected songwriters gathering.
IN GOD WE TRUST
For free email notice when we post a new article like this, sign up below.
I went back in the mid 70s when it was nothing but a bunch of hold over hippies sleeping under tarps, pretty darn rural at best. I believe that was before it went electric and loud. Those courts look like a great place to stay. We can’t go this year, but maybe next.
LikeLiked by 3 people
I can visualize you there! ☆
LikeLiked by 3 people
Jack, it was not comfortable in any way. If MoMo and I return, it will be in a nice hotel room or that retro court. My idea of camping is Drury Inn.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Dodie & I bought a tent last year thinking we could save $ on road trips. We learned we’re too old for that. Our most recent experience was Davis Mountains State Park (We have a state park annual pass). High winds = tent collapse.
Next night, at a Tucson KOA, we just put the front seats back & with heated seats, we slept better than night before. All hotel/motels the rest of the trip to Phoenix & back.
LikeLiked by 2 people
That looks like a whole lotta fun.
LikeLiked by 2 people
It’s less than 20 minutes from our home. It’s a Peace, Love, Dove, For-out & Solid event. ☆♡☆♡☆