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Festival News

Membership Drive and Zimfest 2023

Dearest Zimfest Association Members and friends,

Somehow, 2022 is already trying to sneak out the door, but before 2023 is upon us, I wanted to take a few minutes to let you all know about some exciting things happening in our community.

First and foremost, we are thrilled to announce that Zimfest 2023 is officially a go! The experiment that was Zimfest 2022 taught us many things, but mostly that we really missed seeing our friends and playing wonderful music. After over a decade, we will be returning to Oregon State University in Corvallis on July 21-23 and we hope to see as many of you as possible!

Secondly, you may recall some of the amazing pre-recorded performances both from our online festival in 2021, and between live acts at the Lincoln Theatre in 2022. We received so many amazing videos that we simply couldn’t include all of them. So on December 16th and 17th, we will make them available online for your viewing pleasure. Look for details and registration soon!

And now, I have to take a moment to thank all of our Zimfest Association members! Yes, this was secretly a membership drive all along! There are now almost 100 active members, all of whom allow us to continue working to provide an annual festival while maintaining our connection to the music of Zimbabwe year round! Not a member yet? No problem! Thanks to our streamlined new membership service, it’s easier than ever to join the Zimfest team. Simply go to https://zimfest.org/about/membership. From there, you can follow instructions to become a member, renew a membership, or verify your membership status by plugging in your email address. We now have the option to auto-renew so you can contribute every year without even having to think about it! Please remember that if your membership is more than a year old, you will need to sign up again using our new system. Perks for members include a waiving of the festival registration fee, early access to workshop registration, and even a discount for our upcoming online concert series in December.

“But Daniel, I’m already a member, yet I am compelled, nay, impelled to contribute to Zimfest even more. Whatever can I do??” Great question! There are lots of other ways to contribute. Consider making a tax-deductible donation of whatever amount works for you. Shopping online? When you shop on Amazon, you can support Zimfest by choosing the Zimfest Association as the organization you would like to receive 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. If you’re selling stuff on eBay, you can choose to donate a percentage of the final sales price to the Zimfest Association. Please visit https://charity.ebay.com/charity-auctions/my-causes/ and search for Zimfest! Finally, if your company supports matching donations, find out from your supervisor or Human Resources department how your company can match your contributions!

Whatever you may be celebrating this year, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our online event next month, and in Oregon next summer!

Membership questions? Please contact me at:


Daniel Lockley
Zimfest Association board member and Membership Queen on behalf of the The Zimfest Board

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Donation Thanks and Survey Reminder

Greetings Zimfest community,

I write to gratefully announce the donation of $2225.99 from the HopeFirst Foundation to the Zimfest Association. HopeFirst was originally founded by Paul Mataruse, Kim Foley and Diana Chamrad and helped fund the US tour by Matemai in 2009 in addition to projects in Zimbabwe and The Gambia. HF President Kim Foley, having moved to Ohio, recently made the decision to close the books on the Foundation and donate the remaining proceeds to Zimfest. The funds will be earmarked for the ZA Travel Expense Fellowship program to assist Zimbabweans traveling to Zimfest in the future. Thank you Kim and HopeFirst!

The ZA Board, following the consensus of Village Meeting participants and the organizing committee, is in the process of  seeking a host for Zimfest 2023 that can accommodate a larger audience than this year’s venue (Skagit Fairgrounds and Lincoln Theatre). If you have not yet completed the Post-Festival Survey and have comments for us, please complete the survey before September 1.

Enjoy your summer!
Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator

Heron taking wing, by Carrie Rodlend

  We Took Flight at Zimfest 2022!

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Follow Up to Zimfest Site Evaluation Discussion

Hello all,

The Village Meeting this past Sunday featured a lot of lively feedback about Zimfest 2022 and discussion about where the next Zimfest might be. This post serves as a reminder that previous research on potential Zimfest sites is posted on the website on the ZA Documents page,  entitled Venues Researched as Potential Zimfest sites. I have made a few updates to it.

Several people interested in helping out by visiting sites not yet on the list requested we make the “Site Visit Checklist” available, and it is now downloadable as a pdf on the ZA Documents page.

The ZA Board next meets in August, so please write board[at]zimfest[dot]org if you find viable sites for us to consider. 

Thanks for your help and ideas!
Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator

Heron taking wing, by Carrie Rodlend

    We Took Flight at Zimfest 2022!


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Thank You and Village Meeting Reminder

Dear Zimfest Community,

I hope all of you have caught up a bit on sleep, and are travelling home safely.

First of all, thank you to the organizing committee, led by Claire Jones, who pulled off yet another successful festival.  Also, thank you to the numerous people who volunteered in person, and to the Skagit County Fairgrounds, Lincoln Theatre and Mount Vernon Senior Center for hosting us.

As a reminder, the village meeting is scheduled for this Sunday, July 3rd at 2pm Pacific time, by Zoom: Zoom meeting link.

We will discuss various topics including Zimfest Association business, feedback about this year’s festival, and most excitingly plant the seeds for the next Zimfest!

This festival is only possible because of volunteers like you, and the village meeting is a great way to get started if you are interested in helping to organize the next festival, or to serve on the board.

Thank you,
Alex Weeks
Zimfest Board President

Update: Zoom link has been added for the meeting above.

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Online Registration Ends June 17

Dear Zimfest People,

Thanks for continuing to sign up for workshops – we are happy to announce that no scheduled workshops will be cancelled due to low enrollment! Here are some bits of info to keep in mind as Zimfest 2022 draws ever nearer:

  • We have been waiting since early 2019 (pre-COVID) to announce that Zimfest has purchased five sets of hand drums, three in each set, for use in  workshops (see below). We thank Paul Hayes for making this happen through his generous donations! We have enough drums for students and teachers to use in all drum and percussion workshops. You are of course welcome to bring your own favorite drum if you prefer.
  • We have also been asked about whether students should bring mbira-s to mbira workshops. Enough loaner instruments will be available for teacher and students to use in the tuning called for in each workshop description. Again, you may prefer to bring your own instrument in the desired tuning.
  • Check out the Festival Highlights program, scheduled to take place at the Fairgrounds from 4 to 5 PM on Sunday June 26. This year’s highlights will feature classes taught by our three new Zimbabwean teachers: Danmore Kusaya (Hi Hi Hi Hello on Marimba), Salani Wamkanganise (Mhoro Nherera singing) and Blessing Chimanga (Tamba Jaiva Dance). There are still openings in the latter two classes, and you can join the fun of performing with your teacher and showing off what you’ve learned!
  • Final messages have been sent to the band contact person for each group performing at Zimfest 2022. These messages include instructions for vaccine verification for day stage performers (if you do not have your wristband showing vaccine verification when it’s time to perform, you will not be allowed onstage!) and evening performers. Additional information about the Lincoln Theatre and the the Zimfest masking policy has been sent to evening performers. If you have not seen this message, make sure your band contact person shares it with you!  For further information, write to concerts{at}zimfest{dot}org.
  • Notes on Important Dates: no further changes to workshop registrations may be made after June 15; online registration and volunteer signups end at 11 PM June 17. 

Zimfest Nested Drums from Remo

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Village Meeting Scheduled: Sunday, July 3rd at 2pm Pacific time

Dear Zimfest Community,

Please be advised that the Zimfest Association Board will host our annual Membership Meeting (better known as the Village Meeting) on Sunday July 3rd at 2pm Pacific time by Zoom. As this date approaches, we will post an invite link on the website, as well as update this blog post.

Update: Zoom meeting link.

Traditionally, this meeting is held at the festival, but we are holding it virtually this year in order to ensure that everyone can participate, even those who are not able to make it in person this year.

Alex Weeks
President, Zimfest Association Board

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Two Weeks Until Registration Closes

Greetings Zimfest community,

It is yet another wet, grey day here in Seattle. But a weather forecast for Mount Vernon says the Zimfest weekend of June 24-26 will be sunny and clear. Here’s hoping!

In one week the workshops team will look at workshop registrations and cancel those with enrollments under the minimum number of students. We don’t like to do that, so help us and the teachers out by signing up for those in danger of cancellation:

  • Session 5: Danmore Kusaya has agreed to teach any and all levels of mbira player in the fun song Huku Ine Ronda. 
  • Session 3: Zivanai Masango is teaching Vocal and Percussion Ensemble, and more people are needed to form an ensemble. All levels welcome!
  • Session 3: Salani Wamkanganise and Kelly Orphan collaborate in teaching Mhoro Nherera singing with hosho. We’d love it if students in this class could join in the Festival Highlights program on Sunday.

Reminder that Zimfest cannot happen without volunteer help, and there are still plenty of volunteer jobs to sign up for. Volunteer Coordinator Ev would like you to know that if you sign up for 3 or more volunteer jobs, you will be offered a trip to the Hospitality Lounge (formerly Claire’s Cafe), located onsite, for a goodie or two. We need your help to make Zimfest 2022 a success!

Claire and the 2022 Organizing Committee

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Zimfest Volunteers – We Need You

Posted on behalf of Ev Keller, Volunteers Coordinator:

Zimfest is: 
Z-imbabwean culture and music learning/listening opportunities
I-n a welcoming and supportive setting
M-aking meaningful and memorable moments
F-un for families, friends, fellow music lovers
E-veryone volunteers!! 
S-haring the good vibes
T-ogether crossing borders and taking flight in the experience
Please, take a moment to check out the (many) volunteer opportunities where you can lend a hand to help make light work for all. The sign-up link is here. We need YOU to make this a successful festival. Thank you for joining us – we appreciate you! ~Ev

And some alerts from Webmaster Larry Israel:

  • The Zimfest Ride Board has now been published – set up your ride sharing to and from the festival
  • Explore the evening and afternoon concert schedules for recent changes
  • And Festival Updates for workshop changes and additions

Till next time,
Zimfest 2022 OC

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Zimfest Mask Policy

Dear Zimfest Community,

I’m writing to announce that the Zimfest Association Board, based on work by the Covid safety committee, recently adopted a masking policy for Zimfest.  This policy applies to indoor spaces at the Skagit County Fairgrounds, as well as a nearby senior center where some events are held:

We expect all Zimfest participants to mask at all times while indoors at the Festival.  Currently, western Washington is experiencing a second increase of Omicron Covid infections. The highly infectious Omicron Covid variants have demonstrated an ability to evade immunity from vaccines, previous infections, or both. Consequently, we are asking for masking at all times when indoors at Zimfest, using N95, KN95 or surgical masks. Zimfest will have surgical masks available. Teachers may require that all participants in their workshops wear masks. We ask this with consideration, allowing us to include as many at-risk members as possible, and holding the best of intentions for a healthy gathering of our Zimfest community. We will depend on each other to uphold this safety standard, and encourage participants to speak up with reminders or requests for indoor masking.

“Zimfest participants” in this context includes: teachers, performers, workshop participants, indoor volunteers, vendors and workers contracted by Zimfest.

Please plan to bring your favorite style of N95, KN95, or surgical masks with you to the festival. Further details on Covid safety can be found on the Zimfest website.


Alex Weeks
President, Zimfest Association

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Zimfest News and Reminders

Hello all,

As the COVID omicron variants cause new peaks in infections, your Zimfest Organizing Committee is crossing its collective fingers and continuing to work towards a hopeful and safe gathering in Mount Vernon WA June 24-26. Some news and reminders:

  • Beginning today, May 15th, dorm rooms at Skagit College’s Campus View Village can be reserved via Zimfest registration. Hint: if you have already registered for workshops and are in the system, it will be easier to go to the Registration Manager to make the change to your registration. If you are unsure how, see directions on How to Register.
  • We are very sorry to report that we have been unable to line up any food vendors or food trucks for the Fairgrounds and thus there will be no food on-site. We have consulted with local residents and determined that many have gone out of business during the pandemic while others committed to prime locations months ago. Check out our webpage on Dining Options in Mount Vernon. Everyone’s favorite: Skagit Valley Food Co-op for their deli and orders-to-go.
  • Attention all non-food vendors for the African Marketplace: submit your application by May 28 in order to avoid a late fee. Info and application here.
  • Registration is going well, with many signups on the first three members-only days and a steady flow of signups in the last two weeks. Several classes are already full.
  • We would love to see more people registering for the cultural presentations (half-price!), perhaps the most important topics to be addressed at the festival. Click here for Workshop Details, and search on Presentation or Other.
  • Highly recommended by the OC: “Non-Zimbabweans playing Zimbabwean Music: A Discussion of Colonialism, Racism and Responsibility” facilitated by Kelly Takunda-Orphan on Sunday at 9:30 AM. It is so important that we keep these conversations going!

Continue to keep each other safe!
Claire Jones, Zimfest Coordinator

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Zimfest Registration and Notifications

Greetings all,

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day! The OC is happy to report that Zimfest registrations are going well. Signups for workshops (especially marimba classes) were quite brisk for the first three days in which members only were allowed to register. At this point we are seeing steady interest in workshops of most types. Some changes to report:

  • We will be adding the Campus View Village rooms to registration on May 15, as Skagit College personnel have promised to provide us notification before then of exactly how many suites will be available to us. Information on these 4-room suites is here.
  • We have added a second iteration of a marimba workshop by Daniel Lockley, in order to give participants more choices during the final session. See: Session 6: Intermediate Marimba Njuzu with Daniel Lockley
  • Check the Festival Updates and Workshop Changes webpage regularly to keep track of festival news, changes and other developments.
  • Acceptance letters and contracts were sent out in April to all accepted teachers and live performing groups. To date very few have signed their contracts, and we are now sending out reminders. Several emails appear to have gone missing or have been filtered out. If you believe you have not received your notification or contract, please check your spam and (for gmail users) Promotions folders before writing to us. Most teachers were also asked to submit background checks, and you may find those notifications have been filtered out as well.

Claire Jones
Festival Coordinator

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Zimfest Registration Open May 1

Happy May Day!

Zimfest Registration is now open for members of the Zimfest Association, and will open for all others on May 4. See the How to Register page for instructions and a button (link) to register on RegFox.  You may wish to take out a membership here if you haven’t done so already.

  • You may register for Zimfest workshops and camping and RVing sites at the Skagit Fairgrounds in RegFox, and purchase concert tickets on the Lincoln Theater website.
  • Registration for the dorm rooms at Skagit College’s Campus View Village will open up in RegFox after mid-May, when College personnel notify us of exactly how many rooms will be available to Zimfest attendees.
  • Volunteer Sign-up is open now – don’t forget to sign up for your shifts after you know your workshop and performance schedules to avoid conflicts! 

Some more useful links:

The Zimfest 2022 OC

Heron taking wing, by Rachel Edson

Take Flight at Zimfest 2022

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