By Kevin Shannahan
NSU’s Prather Colosseum was transformed into one of the best musical venues in Louisiana for the 2016 Folk Life Festival, July 15th and 16th. Over 2,700 festivalgoers were entertained by 19 musical acts from all over the state performing on three stages. In addition to the music, 39 craft booths from Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma were joined by the National Park Service and Ft Jean St. Baptiste on the main floor. These vendors sold homemade crafts and educated festivalgoers on various Louisiana and Native American folk ways. Not all of the entertainment was on the schedule. Elizabeth Wolf, an aspiring songwriter from Alexandria, stopped at a booth selling handcrafted instruments and gave a delightfully impromptu violin concert for passersby. The Rising Dragon Lion Dance Team made its first appearance at the Folk Life Festival and delighted the crowd with drumming and lion dancers performing among the audience.
The Folklife Festival, now in its 37th year, is designed to showcase, preserve and perpetuate Louisiana’s unique culture. This year’s theme was “Emerging Artists” with the emphasis in acts on younger muscians. Next year’s theme will be “Keeping Tradition Alive” and will feature established favorites. For a modest admission fee, the Festival features two solid days of superb music and arts and crafts.