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Folk Festival to raise money for Winona Grange

The festival will feature music of the Americana, bluegrass, celtic, folk, rock and blues variety
by: Submitted photo Moonlight Mile members (from left) Erica Liebert, Dana Fontaine and Robert Richter perform at the White Eagle Tavern in Portland.

TUALATIN - Buildings may have sprung up around it and a different crowd may occupy it, but in spite of all the change over the years, the Winona Grange Hall still stands. Now those who esteem the Hall as a significant community-building tool are looking to raise money to bring the 70-year-old building up to ADA standards.

The Winona Grange Folk Festival will take place this Saturday, from 1 to 10 p.m. as a fundraiser to add ramps, lifts and handicap-accessible bathrooms within the building. The festival costs $5 per person or $10 per family and will feature music of the Americana, bluegrass, celtic, folk, rock and blues variety.

'I'm really interested in having the community come into this building and see what a wonderful facility it is,' said Loyce Martinazzi, city historian and longtime supporter of Grange No. 271 in Tualatin. 'The grange used to be the center of the community, the social life, and it's happening again, but we do need to earn money to make it ADA accessible.'

With a large wooden dance floor, a stage, a kitchen and the capability to seat 200, the hall is used today for many regular and special events, including church services, yoga classes and musical jam sessions.

Dana Fontaine and Robert Richter, members of the two-person Americana band Moonlight Mile, approached the grange with the fundraising idea shortly after discovering the building and its many functions.

'I didn't even know it was here, and I've lived here for six years,' said Fontaine. 'It's so beautiful, what a treasure, and all right on the lake next to restaurants and hotels.'

Richter had heard of the grange, but not of its many uses until recently.

'Recently, we discovered there's a lot more here than meets the eye,' Richter said. 'We know about the lake, the Heritage Center, but you never hear about the grange. I think more people need to discover it.'

Richter and Fontaine view their brand of music as a means of communication among family members and neighbors and as a creative means of passing history down the generations.

'That just ties right in with a thing like the grange hall,' Fontaine said. 'It's about communicating, supporting each other, bringing the community together.'

Fontaine and Richter are hoping to turn the event into an annual tradition.

'Music has always been a very big part of the grange,' Martinazzi said. 'When I was a teenager, I participated in all kinds of plays and musicals at the grange, as well as dancing.'

'It's not very many communities like this, that are this suburban and have a grange,' Richter said. 'The city has grown around that.'

The event will feature about a dozen youth performances, a number of them being by Fontaine's students, as well as performances by members of the groups that meet monthly at the grange for bluegrass or Irish music jam sessions.

Evening bands will include Rose in the Heather, who offer a mix of bluegrass and Irish music, Moonlight Mile and country/folk rock Brad Creel and the Reel Deel.

For more information, visit danafontaine.com/winonafolk.html or winonagrange271.org.