(Sept. 6, 2019) The 79th annual National Folk Festival will take place Friday through Sunday in downtown Salisbury, featuring more than 350 traditional musicians, dancers, craftspeople, regional and ethnic cuisines and craft brews, storytelling and parades.
Since it was first presented in St. Louis in 1934, the National Folk Festival has celebrated the roots, richness and variety of American culture. Championed in its early years by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the folk festival was the first event of national stature to present the arts of many nations, races, and languages on equal footing.
Last year, approximately 63,000 people attended the first Salisbury Folk Festival despite the rainy conditions.
“It was just amazing to see our community come together, welcome new visitors, and celebrate –rain or shine,” Salisbury Folk Festival Director Caroline O’Hare said in a press release. “We’re a strong city with a big heart, and we will continue to shine into years two, three and beyond.”
This is the second consecutive year the event, one of America’s largest, most prestigious and longest-running celebrations of arts, culture and heritage, will be held in Salisbury. The 80th annual National Folk Festival will also be held in Salisbury in 2020.
"The Festival was very well received in its first year," Salisbury Public Information Officer Chris Demone said. "The National Council for the Traditional Arts noted that it was perhaps their most successful first-year event. We had over 1,000 volunteers over the three days, and we anticipate as many this year."
The festival embraces the heritage and traditions of all Americans, from those whose families have been here for centuries or millennia, to those who have more recently arrived. Musicians and craftspeople from every state and most U.S. territories have participated in this event.
The festival was the first to present to the public musical forms such as the blues, Cajun music, polka bands, Tex-Mex conjunto, Peking Opera, and many others.
"For three days, the host city becomes the epicenter of all things folk, bringing together cultures from every corner of the globe," Demone said. "Whether you’re a fan of Appalachian Bluegrass, Tuvan throat singing, wildfowl carving, go-go music… There is guaranteed to be something for you to enjoy. And it’s all 100 percent free for attendees to experience."
While the event takes place in Salisbury, the event draws in people to stay in the resort as well.
“There are some hotels that have extended group rates to the National Folk Festival and the Town of Ocean City is a sponsor of the event, so we have been getting exposure from our sponsorship,” said Susan Jones, Executive Director for the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association. “Surely, there aren’t that many hotel rooms in Salisbury, so we’ll get some as a result.”
The festival is free and hours are Friday, 6-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 6:30 p.m. Food vendors and the Festival Marketplace will open at 5 p.m. on Friday, and at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Free parking and free shuttles are available from the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.