In a surprise announcement Friday evening, the National Council for the Traditional Arts and the city of Salisbury said the National Folk Festival will continue its tenure in Salisbury for another year.
As the 80th festival was literally kicking off in Downtown Salisbury, officials said the event -- which has historically traveled from city to city across the country -- will be presented in Salisbury on the final week of August in 2022.
Once the National Folk Festival departed, Salisbury had been expected to host its own event -- to be called the Maryland Folk Festival -- in place of the national festival.
In a joint announcement, city and NCTA leaders said they agreed that the opportunity to carry forward the momentum and excitement of this partnership would continue to bring lasting benefits and value to Salisbury.
For Salisbury, the National Folk Festival has been a catalyst for the newly completed renovations in the city’s Downtown, as well as encouraging wide-ranging community engagement.
The National Folk Festival has been seen as a major driver of the recent physical, social and cultural renewal of the city.
This will be the fourth year the National Folk Festival is presented in Salisbury, an extension of the partnership that brought the 78th, 79th and 80th National Folk Festivals to this community. It also marks a date change for a festival that has taken place the weekend after Labor Day since 2018.
The 2018 festival was seen as a huge success, despite heavy rains that lowered attendance on the final day. More than 150,000 people attended the 2019 event. Last year’s festival -- because of the pandemic -- was moved to a virtual celebration.
This year’s event has been slightly reduced in scale, given the recent surge in Coronavirus cases that has affected travel and social interaction.
The NCTA, which has produced the National Folk Festival in 26 communities over 80 years, said it recognized the potential and value of keeping the festival in Salisbury for an additional year.
The National Folk Festival is the nation’s longest-running multicultural celebration of the traditional arts. It seeks collaborative partnerships with communities aspiring to build on this legacy. The search for the 2023 host city, a nationally competitive process, has begun.
Though this year’s festival is being presented with modifications and new safety protocols because of the pandemic, the 81st National Folk Festival in 2022 will re-establish areas of the festival that were limited for 2021, including a crafts marketplace, in-person school shows, and other key features.
The opportunity to again present the festival in 2022 -- the scheduled dates are Aug. 26-28 -- will allow Salisbury to leverage the related economic and cultural benefits for an additional year of recovery and rebuilding after the upheaval of the pandemic.
The new weekend aligns with the end of summer travel and creates an opportunity for the city to have a destination event for its tourism and business communities during this peak season.
In spring 2022, organizers will begin publicizing the 811st National Folk Festival performers and other details of the event with news announcements.