The festival of 2011 is the sixth Sommelo folk music festival, organised in the current model, although its roots stretch back quite a few years.

There has been consistent development work in the background of the Sommelo Festival that has been carried out within the Juminkeko Foundation and the Kuhmo Music Institute since the early 1990s. The starting point for this development work was the fact that Kuhmo is situated in the rune singing region, as defined by Elias Lönnrot, in the immediate neighbourhood of Viena Karelia.

The first folk music festival, carried out under the name Kansanmusiikki Kuhmossa (Folk music in Kuhmo) was organised as the main event in Kainuu in the celebration of the Finnish folk music jubilee year in October 1996. Back then, among the performers of the folk music event, there were Lauri Keränen alias Ressan Lassi, a master fiddler from Hyrynsalmi, rune singer Jussi Huovinen from the Hietajärvi village of Suomussalmi, and professor of folk music Heikki Laitinen. Since 1996, the event has been organised almost every year (the years 1998, 2000 and 2001 being exceptions). The name Sommelo was first introduced in 2005 when the folk music festival was organised at the turn of the month in November-December. In 2006, the folk music festival Sommelo was organised for the first time in the summer, and since that year, Taito Hoffrén has acted as the artistic director of the festival.

Pekka Huttu-Hiltunen