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Jackson chosen to host National Folk...

Jackson chosen to host National Folk Festival

By: Courtney Ingle - June 21, 2024

  • An influx of visitors will stimulate local businesses, hotels, and restaurants. Well over 100,000 visitors are expected for the festival each year.

In an exciting announcement for cultural enthusiasts and music lovers, Jackson, Mississippi, has been selected as the host city for the National Folk Festival from 2025 through 2027. This world-renowned, three-day, free event will be held in Jackson in 2025, 2026, and 2027, promising to bring thousands of people to the city and millions of dollars in revenue.

Founded in 1934, the National Folk Festival is one of the oldest and most storied folk festivals in the United States. It has a rich history of showcasing a wide array of traditional music, dance, craft, and food, reflecting the nation’s cultural mosaic. The festival travels to a new city every three years, bringing a unique blend of performances, workshops, and interactive experiences.

Jackson’s hosting lays the groundwork for future celebrations

Jackson’s selection as the festival’s host city highlights the efforts made to make the cultural hub more widely known. In recent years, Jackson has been marketed as “The City With Soul.” With a rich musical and cultural heritage, Jackson offers an ideal backdrop for the National Folk Festival. The city’s commitment to preserving and promoting its cultural roots, welcoming community, and vibrant arts scene made it a standout choice for the event.

Jackson is the first Deep South city to host the festival. Since 1934, it has been held nationwide in 28 different host cities. The event is produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts. The city of Jackson was one of 42 that petitioned to be the host city for the 2025-2027 term. 

“On behalf of the City of Jackson, I want to express how excited and honored we are to host the National Folk Festival,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. “We like to say that Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music, and we’re bringing the festival home.”

 The Mayor’s Office, Visit Jackson, Downtown Jackson Partners, the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, the Community Foundation for Mississippi, the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Humanities Council, and Visit Mississippi came together and were instrumental in making the case for Jackson to be named host city.

“Jackson has been impressive throughout this process, and the NCTA, together with its board of directors, is inspired and energized to begin this partnership in such a culturally rich community,” said NCTA Executive Director Blaine Waide. “Mississippi is blessed with an exemplary legacy of arts and culture, and we could not be more excited to launch this festival in Jackson’s historic downtown while showcasing our nation’s finest traditional artists alongside celebrations of the state’s vibrant cultural traditions. This marks the first time the National will be presented in Mississippi. City, regional, and state support has been integral to making it possible.”

According to the festival website, The National Folk Festival partners with communities nationwide to present the three-day festival, free to the public, for three years with the understanding that the local host community intends to continue its own festival once the National moves on to its next site.

Hosting the National Folk Festival is expected to bring substantial economic benefits to Jackson. An influx of visitors will stimulate local businesses, hotels, and restaurants. Well over 100,000 visitors are expected for the festival each year. In Butte, Montana, for example, the population is 65,000. 135,000 people attended. In 2022, Richmond, Virginia, hosted the National Folk Festival and drew a crowd of 230,000 festival goers. 

According to a press release by the Mississippi Arts Commission, 330,000 people are expected to attend the festival in the capital city, boosting the local economy by over $60 million. 

What happens at the National Folk Festival?

The National Folk Festival celebrates the pieces that make up the rich culture we enjoy so much in America today. 

Live Performances by a diverse lineup of artists representing various genres are seen at The National each year, including performers of bluegrass, blues, Cajun, Native American, and more. Traditional dance performances and participatory dance sessions will allow you to not only see different aspects of our culture but also jump in and learn about it while you dance. There will also be artisans who will showcase traditional crafts, from pottery and quilting to instrument-making and blacksmithing. Interactive sessions with artists and cultural experts will provide deeper insights into the traditions and practices on display.

Of course, it’s not a Mississippi cultural celebration without food! This National will include a culinary journey through regional and cultural cuisines that have put Mississippi on the map since its inception. 

The festival will bring as many as six stages of continuous music, including a dance pavilion, traditional crafts, regional and culturally diverse foods, storytelling, parades, and folklife demonstrations to downtown Jackson. 

Another standout aspect of Jackson’s hosting tenure is that the second year of the National’s residency in Jackson, 2026, will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The festival will be an official event for Mississippi’s statewide efforts to commemorate the semi-quincentennial, known as America250.

Mark your calendars for 2025 and get ready to experience the magic of the National Folk Festival in Jackson, Mississippi. It’s set to be an unforgettable celebration of America’s diverse cultural tapestry.

About the Author(s)
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Courtney Ingle

Courtney Ingle is a veteran journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience in print, radio, and digital media. Courtney brings her talents to bear at Magnolia Tribune to cover family-centered education and to elevate those unique aspects of Mississippi culture.
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