Flute & Art Fest: Sunwatch celebrates Native American culture

​​One common misconception about the Sunwatch Flute and Art Festival, returning to Sunwatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park in Dayton Friday through Sunday, Aug. 15 through 17, is it is limited in scope. According to Sunwatch site manager and anthropologist Andy Sawyer, nothing could be further from the truth.

“There’s a lot of diversity,” he said. “We get anything from the traditional, mellow, solo, Native American flute playing to like a rock band up there with the flute in the center of it. You never really know what you’re going to get. For anybody who hasn’t experienced this, it’s a unique collection of musicians from around the country. It’s a different musical style that ranges from traditional to really contemporary. If there’s any style of music you like, you might hear it.”

Flute vendors will be on site so people can not only purchase items but also learn about the history of the instruments and how they’re made.

“Whether you’re a novice or an experienced flute player, they’ve got it,” Sawyer said. “They have simple beginner flutes all the way up to the complicated double barrel flutes that some of these guys play. It’s amazing the variety that’s out there. You think a flute is a flute but there are all kinds of different ones and a lot of them aren’t just musical, they’re visual pieces of art.”

The Native American food is always a big draw during the three-day event.

“We always have more food vendors who want to come in but we really try to stick to three selected food vendors,” Sawyer said. “We’ve got a booth doing Indian tacos and fry bread. We’ve got Brock Masterson’s doing bison burgers and roasted corn. We try to keep with the Native American theme for the food, except, of course, for Smoothie King. They’re coming out with some nice cold drinks for everybody. It’s nice to have those icy beverages in August no matter what they are.”

In addition to festival activities, attendees can visit regular Sunwatch offerings.

“It’s not like you pay and only get to check out the music,” Sawyer said. “Everything is open in our museum and village. Unfortunately I think we’re one of the best kept secrets in town even though we try not to be. We really prefer that weren’t the case.

“One of the reasons we do an event like this is it’s another way to get the word out that Sunwatch is here,” Sawyer added. “We have an extra special event this weekend but we’re here year round with all kind of things going on.”

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