The prestigious National Folk Festival is the nation’s longest-running traditional arts event: a three-day, free, outdoor, multicultural celebration of music, dance and traditional arts and culture, which historically draws upwards of 150,000 attendees, along with an economic impact of approximately $30 million a year.
Produced by the non-profit National Council for the Traditional Arts, the National Folk Festival has been presented in 28 cities across the country, from Chattanooga to Nashville, Richmond and Greensboro, since its inception in 1934. The NCTA partners with communities across the nation to present the Festival, which is free to the public, for three years with the understanding that the local host community intends to continue its own festival once the National moves on to its next site.
During the month of February, representatives of the NCTA visited Salisbury to evaluate the City and determine its suitability for the multiple-stage event. The Mayor’s Office, City Council, Ward Museum Executive Director Lora Bottinelli, the City’s Business Development Specialist Laura Kordzikowski, Salisbury Arts and Entertainment District Executive Director Jamie Heater, Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development Director Dave Ryan, Wicomico County Tourism Manager Kristen Goller, Former Chamber of Commerce CEO Ernie Colburn, and Salisbury University President Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach were all instrumental in making the case for Salisbury as host city.
“We were so impressed with the dynamic energy evident in Salisbury, a collective will that is propelling the community in exciting new directions,” said NCTA Executive Director Julia Olin. “Clearly, if you want to be where the real action is – and we do – it is in a city like Salisbury with a creative, holistic vision for its future. We look forward to a great partnership and successful festivals that celebrate the richness and variety of American culture writ large, and the vibrant regional culture of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, right here in the heart of the historic Delmarva Peninsula.”
“We are especially pleased that, for the first time in its long history, the National Folk Festival will be presented in our home state of Maryland. Statewide support for Salisbury and the festival effort has been tremendous.”
The Festival will bring with it as many as six stages of continuous music, a dance pavilion, traditional crafts, regional food, storytelling, parades and folklife demonstrations to Downtown Salisbury. With well over 100,000 in attendance each year, the National Folk Festival will become a major new arts destination event unprecedented in the city’s history.
“For a decade now, with 3rd Friday and events like the River City Arts Jam and the Shore Craft Beer Fest, we have thrown our arms wide and embraced the arts community in the heart of our City,” said Mayor Day. “With this announcement, the City of Salisbury redoubles its commitment to being the cultural heart and soul of Delmarva and—for the three years from 2018 to 2020—the entire country. Salisbury has long been eager to, and is now proud to step into the national spotlight.
“The National Folk Festival’s residency will strengthen our partnerships with our cornerstone arts and cultural organizations such as Salisbury University’s Music, Dance and Cultural Affairs departments, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Salisbury-Wicomico Arts Council, Community Players, the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, the multiple local dance studios, the Academy of Music Performance – all of these organizations will benefit from having this festival right here at home, and they will all benefit from the community outreach which the NCTA has built into the National Folk Festival. We are so grateful for the support of Governor Larry Hogan, DHCD Secretary Ken Hold, DHCD Assistant Secretary Carol Gilbert, Commerce Secretary Mike Gill, Managing Director of the State Division of Tourism Film and the Arts, Liz Fitsimmons, and the staff of the Maryland State Arts Council.
“This isn’t just a one-time event – it is a series of events which has the potential to bring 150,000 or more people to the heart of the city, and pump tens of millions of dollars into our economy. It is a cultural experience that will enrich our children, and leave a new, annual event in its wake, continuing that enrichment for years to come.
“It is an honor to be able to tell the world that Salisbury, Maryland is the official host city of the 2018 to 2020 National Folk Festival, and Downtown Salisbury is the place where it’s happening!”
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About the National Folk Festival
Since it was first presented in St. Louis in 1934, the National Folk Festival, the NCTA’s flagship event, has celebrated the roots, richness and variety of American culture. Championed in its early years by Eleanor Roosevelt, it was the first event of national stature to present the arts of many nations, races, and languages on equal footing. It was also the first to present to the public musical forms such as the blues, Cajun music, a polka band, Tex-Mex conjunto, Peking Opera, and many others. Today, the National is an exuberant traveling festival, produced by the NCTA in partnership with communities around the country that embraces the diverse cultural expressions that define us as a people in the 21st century.
About the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA)
A leading non-profit in the field, the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), is dedicated to the presentation and documentation of folk and traditional arts in the U.S. Stressing excellence and authenticity, the NCTA presents the nation’s finest traditional artists in major festivals, tours, concerts, workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions, media productions, school programs, cross-cultural exchanges and other activities. It works in partnership with American communities to establish new, sustainable traditional arts events that deliver lasting social, cultural and economic benefits. Over 6,000 hours of the NCTA’s archival audio recordings dating from the 1930s are permanently housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The NCTA champions the interests of folk and traditional artists and organizations in the arena of public policy.