Winlock Pickersfest Returns for 20th Year


On the first weekend of August each year, Winolequa Park is home to one of Lewis County’s most unique festivals, where musicians sport shirts with the unmistakable logo of a chicken playing a banjo: the Winlock Pickersfest.

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event returned over the weekend for its 20th anniversary. People came from all over, including Utah, Portland and Seattle, to attend.

The festival started as a celebration of bluegrass in 2000 and over the years, grew into performances, lessons, group workshops and open mics of a broad spectrum of genres. Now, players at the Pickersfest fill the park with Americana, country, bluegrass, jazz and folk music from across the globe including Europe and South America.

Marv Sobolesky, event organizer and president of the Washington Acoustic Music Association, which hosts the event, has lived in Winlock his whole life. He plays banjo, guitar and mandolin with a specialty in bluegrass. His favorite part of the festival is when bands host workshops, which allow beginner and intermediate musicians the chance to play with folks of all ages and skill levels.

“It’s a good place to start,” Sobolesky said on Saturday. “One thing that is really cute is a few days ago a little girl found a harmonica out in the woods and she started blowing on it. One of my good friends, Mark, he’s a pretty good songwriter, he’s gonna have her on open mic after he worked with her yesterday.”

Describing the way the festival brings folks together, he pointed to two musicians sitting beside each other who appeared to be deep in conversation and said, “Those guys just met five minutes ago.”

Proceeds from the event each year go partly to the association and partly to other community groups including Winlock Youth Baseball.

“There’s no generation gap at this kind of thing,” Sobolesky said. “(There are) kids up to one guy who’s 94.”

For more information on the Washington Acoustic Music Association, head to The organization puts on events throughout the year for musicians at various skill levels. For more on the Pickersfest, visit