One of the largest gatherings of art and culture came to Salisbury this past weekend and left residents feeling enriched with culture and pride for the place they call home.
This was the 78th National Folk Festival and is known to be one of the oldest, longest-running multicultural celebrations in the world.
With over 350 of the nation’s finest traditional musicians, dancers, craftspeople and other keepers of culture in performances, workshops and demonstrations, plus the opportunity to immerse oneself into new cultures with endless participatory dancing, storytelling and parades, the festival provided entertainment for people of all ages.
Not only does the festival provide a variety of performances, activities, music and food – it also helps aid the community financially through donations that go toward bettering the town as a whole.
According to the National Council for the Traditional Arts, each festival has an annual economic impact in the range of $15-30 million.
Although the festival includes a lot of focus on national traditions, it also places a huge emphasis on local businesses and encourages philanthropists and small business owners to come out and promote their products and services.
Given the fact that the festival required at least 800 volunteers, SU represented a good portion of the festival through the volunteering of running booths, driving golf carts as well as helping backstage.
Of the many organizations that represented SU at the festival, several students from SU’s Student Government Association came out to volunteer, including SGA member Jhane Taylor, who was surprised by the diverse aspects of the festival.
“The festival was so interesting,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t expecting so many different genres of music – they had reggae, they had the hoedown, and I just like how diverse it was.”
SU junior and SGA member Sharifa McClean was most impressed with the food and the turnout regarding SU students.
“We came for student government to volunteer, but it’s been really cool. There’s, like, a lot of food, it looks like there’s a lot of people here, like I’ve seen a lot of people from the university,” McClean said. “We don’t always have a lot of stuff going on on campus so I think this is really cool that this is here.”
The festival was a rain-or-shine event, and although rainstorms were scattered through downtown Salisbury throughout the weekend, the weather did not stop many festivalgoers from enjoying all that the event had to offer.
Sophomore Brendan Link came out to volunteer with his fellow SGA members and he was pleasantly surprised at the turnout despite the rain.
“It was really cool to see the different types of events going on, whether it was food, music or street performers. It was really cool to see everyone come out,” Link said. “Even though it wasn’t the greatest of weather, it was still pretty awesome.”
Junior Gaby Morris attended the festival all three days in order to help promote SU’s glass-blowing club. With a variety of handcrafted glass sculptures, cups and trinkets, Morris encouraged festivalgoers to attend their visiting sessions making crafts that correlate with each season.
“It is our very first time at the Folk Festival, so I’m very excited because we did a lot of production over the summer, so we’re selling cups, pumpkins and all of our student work as well,” Morris said.
Aside from SU’s SGA, many other organizations ranging from clubs to Greek Life and various others came out to give back to the community. Of these organizations, some members of SU’s Girls On Top (GOT) were tasked with backstage duties.
Sophomore Kasey Brabant enjoyed the festival most for its ability to bring a variety of cultures, ideas and people to one place for a celebration.
“I think the festival is really fun because you get to see, like, so many different kinds of people, cultures and food,” Brabant said.
Brabant’s fellow GOT member and junior at SU, Olivia Edsal, found the festival to be inspiring that it could bring the community together.
“I think it’s a great experience to see downtown Salisbury and to just see everyone come together and just share their enjoyment for music,” Edsal said.
Along with the many SU students who came out to help with the festival, a number of Salisbury residents reached out to be volunteers as well.
Deirdre Johnson, 51, resident of Salisbury, came to hear about the opportunity to volunteer through the youth group at her church. Johnson found the festival to be a way to show appreciation for the place that many call home.
“It’s good for the community and it’s a way to give back to the place where we live and just to fellowship with people from all over the world,” Johnson said.
By CAROLINE STREETT
Gull Life editor
Featured photo: Acrobats perform at the 2018 Folk Festival (Emma Redier image).