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'Woody in the Woods' celebrates Columbia River Songs on Sunday

A painting of Woody Guthrie. (Tom Agostino/Courtesy)

A painting of Woody Guthrie. (Tom Agostino/Courtesy)

This weekend, the Folk Sessions celebrates the 75th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs at the Highlands Center for Natural History with the Woody in the Woods Fest.

The Columbia River Songs were the result of when the federal government hired Guthrie to go to Washington State when it was working on the Hoover Dam, said Folk Sessions Director Tom Agostino.

“They wanted him to travel the state and let people know that conservation was a good thing, that the dam was a good project,” Agostino said. “He traveled all around the state of Washington meeting people … in the 30 days he was there, he wrote 25 songs and they’re some of his most famous songs.”

Held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for Highlands Center members and $5 for kids. It will feature a cross section of singers local to the area as well as those from Phoenix, Agostino said. There will also be a video presentation of Guthrie and the Columbia River Dam Project and a couple of storytellers who he branded as “legendary,” including Lon Austin who is known as Arizona’s Woody Guthrie. The kids will even have a program just for them in the Highland Center’s children’s play area.

The event will see such musicians as Brad Newman, The Robertson Sisters, Greg Lacosse, Garrick Rawlings, The Columbia River Ramblers, and Agostino and his wife, Christa Agostino.

With the Cowboy Poets Gathering ending Saturday, the Woody in the Woods festival is a good bookend to a weekend of similar events, Agostino said.

“It’ll be a fun afternoon of sharing a great artist,” he said. “Lots of singing along.”

The Highlands Center for Natural History is located at 1375 S. Walker Road. For more information about the Woody in the Woods Fest or to buy tickets, visit

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