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Folk Fest to Host National, Regional Talent this Weekend

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As a freshman at Ohio University, Haden DeRoberts had more to worry about than passing his finals and finding a niche in college; he had also been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

The current fifth-year is now healthy, thanks to a May 2012 bone marrow transplant, which he received at the James Cancer Center at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Now he’s focusing his attention on Folk Fest — an annual music festival held to raise money and awareness for the National Bone Marrow Registry and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

This year’s event will take place this Saturday at 28 Smith Street in Athens. Although Folk Fest is free, donations are encouraged.

“It is due to abundant selflessness of my donor and the community of doctors and nurses who cared for me that I am able to continue to live a happy and healthy life,” DeRoberts said in a release. “It is my mission with Folk Fest to bring people together through my greatest passion, live music, to give back to the medical community.”

While in high school, DeRoberts used to hold Folk Fests in his backyard in a suburban Columbus neighborhood. Back then, he said it was a small event, which turned into “a more legitimate operation” as the years passed. He and his friends used to select different charities to donate to after the fests.

But after his Leukemia diagnosis and bone marrow transplant, “the cause became a little more personal,” for DeRoberts, who is studying event design and nonprofit management.

Throughout Saturday, 18 acts will play on two stages. Additionally, representatives from the Love Hope Strength Foundation — “a charity that promotes innovative, music related, outreach and awareness for leukemia and cancer sufferers, survivors and their families,” according to the nonprofit’s website — will be available for swabbing, so attendees can test their genetic makeup to possibly save someone with leukemia.

This year, DeRoberts launched a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of bringing bands to his backyard, and he said that will mean a larger donation. In the past, some of the money raised at the event had to go to the bands.

“Last year, we made a little over $1,000,” DeRoberts said. “The proceeds have gone up each year.”

As of Thursday evening, 716 people had RSVP’d on the event’s Facebook page. DeRoberts estimates that there will be roughly 400 at any given time, since people come and go throughout the day.

However, all good things come to an end, and Folk Fest is no exception — this is DeRobert’s final year in Athens.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that with the looming presence of college graduation closing in, that this will be the final incarnation of Folk Fest,” he wrote on the Facebook event page. “Organizing this event has brought me much joy over the years, and I am abundantly proud of what it has become.”


Side Stage: Dead Man Winter (Dave Simonett of Trampled By Turtles) – 11 p.m.

Main Stage: Blond – 10:20 p.m.

Side Stage: Near Hills – 9:50 p.m.

Main Stage: Cordial Sins – 9:10 p.m.

Side Stage: Simpler Shades – 8:40 p.m.

Main Stage: Vicky Speedboat – 8 p.m.

Side Stage: Fisher – 7:30 p.m.

Main Stage: The High Definitions – 6:50 p.m.

Side Stage: The Wonderfool – 6:20 p.m.

Main Stage: Fingers – 5:40 p.m.

Side Stage: Lucy Oaks (of Fine Animal) – 5:10 p.m.

Main Stage: Qiet – 4:30 p.m.

Side Stage: Wished Bone – 4 p.m.

Main Stage: Sunshine Bandits – 3:20 p.m.

Side Stage: Space Buns Forever – 2:50 p.m.

Main Stage: Beluga Whale Rescue Team – 2:10 p.m.

Side Stage: Erin Casey – 1:40 p.m.

Main Stage: Kvetch – 1 p.m.