Applications Now Accepted For National Folk Festival

SALISBURY – Applications are open for artists wishing to perform at the National Folk Festival in Salisbury next fall.

From Sept. 7-9, the city of Salisbury will host its first of three National Folk Festivals downtown. The free event will feature crafts, food, continuous performances and more.

To that effect, officials with the National Folk Festival are looking for talented musicians and artists and will be accepting performer applications until April 30.

Caroline O’Hare, local manager for the National Folk Festival, said submissions will be reviewed by the National Council for the Traditional Arts, as well as an advisory committee consisting of Delmarva residents, before final selections are made.

“One of the hallmarks of the National Folk Festival is quality and authenticity,” she said. “That’s the main criteria that they look for when they are selecting artists that represent folk and traditional arts. It’s not just that they are incredibly talented and very good at their craft. It’s that they are bringing that authenticity.”

O’Hare said the National Folk Festival traditionally receives nearly 2,000 applications each year, but typically selects between 25 and 35 artists.

“It’s highly selective,” she said. “When you see an artist perform you not only are you seeing the top artist in the genre, but they’re representing that authentic musical genre or dance.”

O’Hare explained the festival will give artists an opportunity to collaborate with fellow performers and showcase their talents.

“It’s a free festival,” she said, “so people of all backgrounds will have access to your performance.”

O’Hare said the festival is looking to incorporate folk and traditional performances from both local and national artists. Genres include blues, rockabilly, gospel, klezmer, jazz, bluegrass, polka, mariachi, honky-tonk, beat box, rhythm and blues, and more, as well as traditional music and dance from Cajun, Native American, Celtic, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Asian, Appalachian, Latin American, African and Pacific Islander cultures.

“We want to represent not only all Marylanders but all Americans in this festival,” she said.

O’Hare encouraged artists to apply.

“If you aren’t accepted for the first year, please apply the second year and the third year. No artist is repeated at the nationals …,” she said. “If you feel like you’re the right fit, take a chance.”

Those interested in performing next fall can submit their materials, including audio or video samples, biographical information and press materials, electronically or through the mail. Materials will not be returned.

For more information, or to apply, visit

“Everything that is sent will be reviewed,” O’Hare said.

First held in 1934, the National Folk Festival is the oldest multicultural festival of traditional arts in the nation. It is a traveling festival produced in partnership with communities around the country.

Salisbury will host the festival from 2018 to 2020. Afterwards, the city will continue to host a legacy festival of equal or larger size in perpetuity.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.