SALISBURY, Md. – The City of Salisbury says it and the National Council for Traditional Arts (NCTA) estimate that 400,000 people have attended the National Folk Festival while it has been running in Salisbury over the past 5 years/4 festivals.
“Never in the history of Salisbury has an event drawn so many people to our city, right in the heart of the city center, until the National Folk Festival,” Mayor Jake Day said. “This festival forever changed Salisbury and cemented our footing in the arts and culture space. We are proud to have been the place where some 400,000 people gathered to sing, dance, laugh and learn together – it was the greatest honour.
The city says that every year tens of thousands of participants filled the streets of Salisbury town centre, shopped in the boutiques of the Plaza and ate in the main restaurants, while enjoying the art, the culture and heritage inaugurated by the National Folk Festival. “From the beginning, the National Folklore Festival has exceeded all expectations. Its success is felt not only during the weekend of the festival, but throughout the year”, explains Caroline O’Hare, local director of the National Folk Festival. “The festival has been a catalyst for growing civic pride, new arts and cultural initiatives, and tens of millions of dollars in regional economic impact brought about by welcoming over 400,000 attendees to Salisbury since 2018.”
“The city, region and country have transformed more dramatically than we could imagine during our tenure with the National Folk Festival in Salisbury,” said NCTA executive director Lora Bottinelli. “The city, local partners, and nationally recognized traditional artists have found themselves navigating one of the most transformative periods in American cultural history as it relates to public space. Experiencing these changes and doing this work with partners based on a shared commitment to moving these events forward for the positive results they generate has been central to our success.
According to the city, the festival usually remains at the same location for three years, but was granted an additional two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They say the repeated and enduring success of the National Folk Festival in Salisbury would not have been possible without the support and involvement of the local community, including participants, volunteers, staff, donors and sponsors, and even performers and artists like Maryland WERKS, Lurking Class Skate Shop and Maryland Spirituals Initiative Ensemble.
“Every time this festival has been successful, our community has been successful as well,” said Mayor Day. “People from all corners of our city have come together to be part of this festival, whether behind the stage, on stage or in the crowd. The impact goes beyond the festival weekend – it’s about elevating the creativity and culture that already exists in our community.
The National Folk Festival will move to a new host city, but the music will continue with Maryland’s own folk festival, a pattern common to previous host cities.
“The Maryland Folk Festival is an exciting new chapter for our community and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it,” said O’Hare, who is now Events and Culture Manager for the City of Salisbury. “Attendees will have the opportunity to discover world-class musicians, dancers, storytellers, artisans and more. As the National’s legacy festival, we will continue our mission to produce a free, large-scale multicultural event that highlights the diverse traditions, cultures and arts of Maryland and the country. The impact of the festival is underscored by our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, as we proudly state: All are welcome in Salisbury. »
Dates for the 2023 Maryland Folk Festival will be announced on the City of Salisbury, Maryland Facebook page and on the Maryland Folk Festival website in the coming weeks. To sign up for email updates on the Maryland Folk Festival, the city says to visit www.mdfolkfest.com.