Salisbury Confirms National Folk Festival Returning

SALISBURY – A modified folk festival will return to downtown Salisbury later this year.

Late last month, organizers with the National Folk Festival announced the event’s return to downtown Salisbury Sept. 10-12.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to come together for the Salisbury Marathon, our first outdoor Third Friday and have had some return to normalcy. After being apart for so long, it has been such a joy to be with one another again, to feel the power of how events and arts can bring us together,” City Administrator Julia Glanz said in a recent press conference. “So today we are excited to announce that we will be hosting the 80th National Folk Festival in downtown Salisbury.”

Last year, organizers were forced to suspend planning for the 80th National Folk Festival in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, which was slated to return Sept. 11-13 of 2020, would have marked the last year of a three-year residency in Salisbury.

The National Folk Festival – a free, outdoor event produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) – celebrates arts, culture and heritage through live performances, workshops, demonstrations, children’s activities and more. In its first two events held in Salisbury, the festival reportedly attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees and generated millions of dollars in total economic impact.

Now returning for its third and final year, organizers say the National Folk Festival will feature performances, special family and Maryland folklife programming, food and beverage concessions and more. The event, however, will have fewer stages and a smaller footprint.

“Our community is on the right track to host this event in a safe way, taking into consideration all safety protocols that are needed …,” Glanz said. “Our businesses and residents are eager to come together to connect and help our local and regional economy continue to grow at the pace we saw prior to COVID.”

NCTA Executive Director Lora Bottinelli said the hope is for the festival to spur economic recovery efforts in downtown Salisbury. Supported in part by the federal American Rescue Plan, the event has been identified as a driver for the recovery of the local, regional and state economy.

“We know pulling this event off is going to have challenges. We know it’s going to take a huge group effort and a group lift,” she said. “And we know it’s going to be important for the community on so many levels.”

Caroline O’Hare, local manager for the National Folk Festival, said the event will be reconfigured to ensure the safety of all participants. But she noted there was still a desire from the community to host the festival this year.

“The support for this festival is there,” she said. “It’s growing, and we’re excited we have a community that believes in this festival and believes in themselves.”

Officials noted Perdue Farms and TidalHealth Peninsula Regional have renewed their sponsorships for this year’s event. The National Folk Festival is also seeking private support to match public investments made by the City of Salisbury, the American Rescue Plan, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Festival performers and other event details will be announced later this spring and summer. Updates will be posted to

“With the 80th National Folk Festival, the NCTA is thrilled to have the nation’s longest-running celebration of the roots, richness, and variety of American culture back in the heart of downtown Salisbury,” Bottinelli said in a statement. “Audiences can expect the same combination of diversity and excellence when we announce the artistic program later this summer. There will be performances, artist demonstrations, food and concessions, and more – something for everyone.”

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.