National Folk Festival Returns To Salisbury For 2nd Year

National Folk Festival Returns To Salisbury For 2nd Year
A performer is pictured during last year’s National Folk Festival in Salisbury. Photo courtesy Edwin Remsberg Photographs

SALISBURY – A national festival will return to the streets of downtown Salisbury next weekend.

From Sept. 6-8, downtown Salisbury will host the 79th Annual National Folk Festival, now in its second year of a three-year residency in Wicomico County.

The free event, produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts, will feature more than 350 performers and artisans, workshops, demonstrations, children’s activities and more.

Caroline O’Hare, local manager for the National Folk Festival, said planning for this year’s event began as soon as last year’s festival concluded.

After hosting a meeting with community stakeholders and identifying issues from last year’s festival, she said organizers are eager to make this year’s event bigger and better.

“We looked for ways to improve and streamline the process for this year,” she said. “A lot of it was a ‘work smarter, not harder,’ type of thing.”

For example, this year organizers have improved golf cart lanes and stage positions and will introduce bike valets for those who wish to bike to the festival.

O’Hare added that the festival will also feature additional marketplace artisans and food vendors.

“We are also heavily promoting our downtown restaurants, bars and cafes …,” she said. “Many indicated that they wanted more information on indoor dining.”

The festival will also feature an entirely new group of artisans and performers.

“There will be no repeats from last year,” she said.

O’Hare highlighted a growing interest in the National Folk Festival. She said the number of calls, emails and digital interactions have increased significantly this year.

“I’m expecting our crowd to probably double this year,” she said. “I’m seeing a greater response before this festival, and we’ve had a farther reach.”

O’Hare said the National Folk Festival not only benefits Salisbury, but the entire region. She said a study from last year’s festival indicated transactions on accommodations, food and gas generated $18 million in economic impact.

“We are looking at this festival to have an economic impact of $45 million by year three …,” she said. “The people that are coming to this festival aren’t just coming to Salisbury. They are exploring the area, and we are excited about that because it brings repeat customers.”

For the second year, the National Folk Festival will also bring its Artists in Schools program – sponsored by Whiting-Turning Contracting Company – to Wicomico County Public Schools. On Sept. 6, roughly 10 performance groups from the National Folk Festival will bring their shows to schools throughout the county.

“They are very interactive and engage with the students …,” O’Hare said. “Last year, we reached 3,200 students in one day.”

In preparation for this year’s festival, O’Hare said event organizers are currently seeking volunteers to man the merchandise tents and to join the Bucket Brigade, which circulates buckets and collects donations.

“We want this event to be accessible to all,” she said. “When they are out there with the buckets, know that your one-dollar, five-dollar, ten-dollar donation is what is making this festival free.”

Volunteers are also needed to be music loggers, or individuals who record performances and document information for the Library of Congress.

To register as a volunteer, visit or email [email protected]. A volunteer rally will be held at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center on Sept. 4 from 6-8 p.m.

The National Folk Festival will take place from 6:30-10:30 p.m. on Friday, noon to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Free parking will be available in downtown Salisbury and free parking and shuttle services will be offered at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

For more information, visit

“With the wide variety of talent, performances and experiences in one place for free, I don’t know of any other festival like this,” O’Hare said. “It’s an all-American festival that celebrates all cultures.”

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.