UMES 30 Ep. 38--The National Folk Festival

Sep 9, 2019

This year, the 79th National Folk Festival continues its residency in Salisbury, Maryland.

Since it was first presented in St. Louis in 1934, the National Folk Festival has celebrated the roots, richness, and variety of American culture. The Festival 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, polka bands, Tex-Mex, Peking Opera, and many others.

The National Folk Festival three-year stay in each host city is intended to lay the groundwork for a sustainable, locally produced festival that continues after it moves on. Including Salisbury—where the Festival will be in residence through 2020—the National Folk Festival has been presented in 29 cities. Musicians and craftspeople from every state and most U.S. territories have participated in this traveling venue of traditional folk arts. Presented to audiences free of charge over three days, National Folk Festivals have drawn audiences of 100,000 to 175,000 annually since 1987.

As one might imagine, organizing such a large festival takes a considerable amount of effort by many people.

One such person—who happens to have ties with Maryland’s Eastern Shore—is Lora Bottinelli.

She is the former executive director of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury and in 2018 was named the new executive director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the organization that produces the National Folk Festival.

While traveling two days before the official start of the festival, Lora took time out of her busy schedule to speak with us about the 3-day event on this edition of UMES 30.