Ocean City Today

National Folk Festival lands in Salisbury this September

By Kara Hallissey | Apr 05, 2018

(April 6, 2018) When the National Folk Festival comes to Salisbury in September, thousands of the people it will draw will spend at least some of their time in Ocean City.

“Salisbury will be the host city for three years,” Caroline O’Hare, a local manager for the National Folk Festival, said at the monthly Economic Development Committee meeting Wednesday morning.

“After it leaves, Salisbury is encouraged to continue the tradition with its own festival.”

The free, three-day festival on Sept.7-9 will feature 350 artists and dance performances on six stages. The festival’s music menu will include everything from bluegrass to mariachi to hip-hop and honky-tonk.

“There is a plethora of genres that fall under folk,” O’Hare said. “It is more diverse than any other festival I can think of and to have them all in one place is incredible.”

There will be a tented dance pavilion in addition to a family area with activities for children, storytelling, crafts and games.

The festival marketplace will feature artisans and crafts as well as local, regional and ethnic foods.

“The National Folk Festival projects the first year attendance to be between 60,000 and 80,000 people with overflow coming into Ocean City,” O’Hare said. “That is $15 to $30 million dollars in direct spending projected over the three-day weekend with tens of millions more throughout the region.”

By the second year, attendance is projected to double, and by 2020, attendance should reach 150,000 people, O’Hare said.

According to O’Hare’s numbers, 60 percent of attendees will be from the peninsula region, followed by 25 percent from metropolitan areas within 100 miles.

Approximately 10 percent will travel from cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, O’Hare said.

The festival attracts families with children, empty nesters, young people looking for new experiences, cultural and ethnic groups, tour bus operators, tourists and employees of partner organizations.

“It is a family-friendly event with diverse and rich cultures coming together,” O’Hare said.

After the festival’s three year run, the national festival moves to a new city, but historically the crowds do not drop in attendance, she said.

“It’s going to be huge for the area and state,” O’Hare said. “It will bring new visitors to town with its diverse artists. We want people to come, have a great time and come back to attend other events.”

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