More than 500 performers set for Gaŗezers festival

More than 500 singers and dancers from the United States, Canada and Latvia are expected to perform during the 13th Gaŗezers Songfest (Gaŗezera Dziesmu dienas) scheduled July 29-31 at the Latvian Center Gaŗezers near Three Rivers, Mich.

The festival—the largest Latvian event in North America this year—begins at 9 p.m. Friday, July 29, with an open-air dance, or zaļumballe, in the “song valley” at Gaŗezers. Music will be provided by the folk-rock group Laimas muzykanti from Latvia.

Events on Saturday, July 30, include an arts and crafts fair, an art exhibit and a children’s festival.

The highlight of the day will be the grand song and dance concert set at 7 p.m. in the “song valley.”

Performing during the grand concert will be the Boston Trimda Ev.-Lutheran Church choir; the Chicago Men’s Choir; the Zion Ev.-Lutheran Church choir from Chicago; the folk dance troupe Čikāgas Dzelmieši; the Uguntiņa dance ensemble from the Krišjānis Barons Latvian School of Chicago; the popular schlager group Čikāgas Piecīši; the folk dance troupe Čikāgas Randiņš; Ciema balsis, a choir from the Latvian community near Three Rivers, Mich.; the Philadelphia Latvian Baptist Concert Choir; the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Latvian Choir; the women’s caberet group IDVASA from Indianapolis, Ind.; the Gaŗezers Summer High School Choir; the Indianapolis Latvian School Choir; the Indiana Latvian Society choir; the folk dance troupes Jautrais pāris, Jautrais pāris children’s group and Jautrais solis, all from Indianapolis; the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Men’s Choir; the Kalamazoo Latvian School’s dance group; the Cleveland Latvian Society Choir from Ohio; the dance troupe Klīvlandes Pastalnieki; the Milwaukee Association’s Brusubardis dzimtene choir from Wisconsin; the dance troupe Pērkonītis from Minneapolis, Minn.; the Minneapolis and St. Paul Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church choir; Atbalss, a mixed choir from Montréal, Québec; the St. John’s Ev.-Lutheran Church of Toronto’s vocal ensemble; the Daugavas Vanagi Men’s Choir of Canada; the dance troupe Dīžais dancis from Toronto; the dance troupe Daugaviņa from Toronto; and the Dzirksts choir from Toronto.

In all, according to Gaŗezers Board Chairman Arnis Kākulis, about 285 singers and 225 dancers are expected to participate.

The festival ball begins at 10 p.m. Saturday, also in the “song valley.” Again, music will be provided by Laimas muzykanti.

The festival continues Sunday, July 31, with a 10:30 a.m. service in the open-air church.

The musical “Gudrais padomiņš” will be performed at 2 p.m. in the Grasis Pavilion by a cast including high school students and Gaŗezers children’s camp participants.

The festival concludes with a dinner at 6 p.m. on the shore of Long Lake.

Mostly sunny skies, dry conditions and high temperatures in the low 80s Fahrenheit (about 27-28 degrees Celsius) are forecast during the weekend in the Three Rivers region by the National Weather Service.

Tickets will be available from 3-7 p.m. Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Dzintari cabins and at the main Gaŗezers office. Tickets to individual events are available, but the festival organizers also are offering an all-inclusive ticket. The dižbiļete costs USD 65 for adults and USD 35 for children.

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Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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