Zimfest Is Family

THE COMMUNITY BEHIND ZIMFEST

Since the first Zimfest in 1991, people have been coming together to share and propagate Zimbabwean music and culture. With the exception of a paid festival coordinator, all of the planning and running of these events has been accomplished with volunteer energy. That’s 29 years’ worth!

What makes Zimfest tick is its people

Behind the scenes is the Zimfest Association Board for policy and financial matters. The Organizing Committee does the heavy lifting of pulling off a festival every year.

We’d like to present a photo essay honoring the many multi-generational family connections that are at the core of Zimfest, and we’re calling this ongoing project

ZIMFEST IS FAMILY

  • Lynn and Kyra

  • Lynn Wyckoff and her daughter Kyra Skaggs first attended Zimfest at the Seattle Center in 2002 where they met Wanda Walker and her daughter Mandy, who tossed them a frisbee and encouraged them to take workshops. Lynn had only heard recordings of marimba and mbira music, but hearing it live “brought her heart home”. Lynn is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer, and says her life has been deeply enriched by all she has learned from her Zimbabwean teachers. Kyra is also a dancer and marimba player, and is on the 2020 OC. Lynn and Kyra managed the ZF Booth in 2019.

  • Jake and Mandy as teenagers

  • Jake Roberts and Mandy Walker-LaFollette were childhood sweethearts who played marimba together at the Kutsinhira Center in Eugene. They married and united their families in 2017.

  • Weeks-Roberts-Walker-LaFollette Thanksgiving
    From left: Alex, Craig, Bill, Janis, Wanda, Mandy and Jake

  • Mandy’s parents are Wanda Walker and Craig LaFollette. Jake’s parents are Janis Weeks and Bill Roberts. Alex Weeks is Jake’s brother. Both families are longtime Kutsinhira members and have contributed generously to the Zimfest community through their gifts of time and energy.

    Wanda Walker was on the OC for Eugene festivals in 2000 and 2006. She has taught workshops and taken on various volunteer tasks through the years. Craig LaFollette, owner of MarimbaWorks, has been the instrument coordinator for Zimfest for many years, providing hoshos, mallets, and 2 sets of marimbas for ZF performances and workshops. Their daughter Mandy has taught ZF marimba workshops, and has been on the OC for 3 years as Registration guru.

    Brothers Alex Weeks and Jake Roberts are members of Hokoyo Marimba, along with Mandy (and Michael Beardsworth). Alex and Jake set up their homegrown online registration system in 2010, using it for the first OSU Zimfest in Corvallis. Alex has been on the ZA Board since then and is the current Board president. Jake is on the Tech Committee and both have been active on the OC and Tech Committees for the past decade. Their mom Janis Weeks, is on the ZA Board. She and husband Bill Roberts have been frequent volunteers at the Registration desk for many Zimfests.

  • Larry and Angela

  • Larry Israel was part of the ad hoc Seattle group that organized the first Zimfest in 1991, then called Northwest Marimbafest. He has remained involved with many organizing and tech committees since then, served on the ZA Board for a decade starting in 2001, and has been the Zimfest webmaster for many years.

    Angela Marie has long been an active marimba player in Santa Cruz and joined up with now-husband Larry to form the core of the Zimfest organizing committee for the 2001 festival in Monterey Bay, the only one to have taken place in California. A former Zimfest Association Board president and member for more than a decade, she still volunteers onsite every year. We call her our Decorations Queen.

  • Mark and Marilyn

  • Marilyn Kolodziejczyk served on the ZA Board from 2003 – 2012 and has made invaluable contributions in obtaining visas for Zimbabwean guests for Kutsinhira as well as Zimfest. Her husband Mark Cohen served as Zimfest photographer for many years.

  • Mark, adoptive brother Musekiwa Chingodza, Bud

  • Their son Bud Cohen is a familiar face in Eugene-based marimba ensembles and a dependable Zimfest stagehand and concerts volunteer. His heading-up of the meal production and serving at the 2006 Zimfest at the Oregon Country Fair site has become the stuff of legend.

  • Rachel and Michael

  • Michael Beardsworth, longtime Hokoyo marimba player, has been Zimfest Concert producer since 2014. Wife and friend since childhood Rachel Edson has been doing graphics work and Festival Guide layout for Zimfest since 2016.