The National Folk Festival is in its final year of residency in Salisbury, bringing over 350 performers from every corner of the United States. Photo: National Folk Festival in Salisbury, MD

National Folk Festival Returns to Salisbury for Final Year

The National Folk Festival is in its final year of residency in Salisbury, Md. The Eastern Shore city has hosted this longtime festival since 2018, welcoming some 350 artists to the shore—musicians, dancers, storytellers, and craftspeople.

For the first time, the festival will be held in late August, giving even more people an opportunity to join the fun before school starts up again. More than 25 different musical groups will perform on four outdoor stages throughout downtown Salisbury.

For the 81st festival, organizers are revealing the performers a little at a time. Some of the artists most recently announced include a zydeco band, an Irish fiddler, and a Native American storyteller-performer from Washington state.

The National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) created the National Folk Festival in 1934 and has produced it ever since. It travels to cities around the country every few years, giving representation and access to many regions. NCTA says it chose Salisbury and the Chesapeake Bay region for the area’s “unique cultural assets and strong community spirit.” Last year’s festival attracted 91,000 people to Salisbury and generated a long-term economic impact of $19.8 million.

One of the festival stages is known as the Maryland Traditions Folklife Area & Stage, focused specifically on the living traditions from communities across the state, including music, crafts, rituals, foodways and occupations. The theme of this year’s Maryland-focused program is Maryland at Work, put on by the Maryland State Arts Council. Maryland has a wide variety of trades, industries, crafts, and professions, “from agriculture in the Appalachians to textiles in Baltimore to the Eastern Shore’s maritime and tourism industries,” as organizers point out. The 2020 census found Maryland to be the East Coast’s most diverse state. Maryland at work “presents a snapshot of the ever-changing ways Marylanders work.”

The final year for National Folk Festival in Maryland will be held Aug. 26-28, 2022. If you’re sad to see the National Folk Festival go, don’t worry: the event will transition in 2023 to the Maryland Folk Festival in Salisbury.

-Meg Walburn Viviano