Folk Festival gets NEA grant

folk-fest-2017Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Folklife Center will receive a $10,000 Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the 38th annual event.  The NEA approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the group’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. The Challenge America category supports primarily small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability.

“We are deeply honored that the Festival has received a Challenge America award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. “This year’s Festival will be a fun filled, educational event that will highlight some of the finest folk music, food, crafts and cultural traditions in Louisiana.”

“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Folklife Center, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”

The 38th annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held on July 14-15, 2017 in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The 2017 Festival theme is “Keeping Tradition Alive!” In addition to the annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship which will be held in the Magale Recital Hall on the afternoon of July 15, performers will present a variety of styles of music ranging from country, Cajun, zydeco, gospel, bluegrass and blues.

Artists will include Cajun music with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and Ray Abshire and Friends, Zydeco with Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie and Gerard Delafose and the Zydeco Gators, Texas Swing with the Caddo Creek Band, traditional mariachi music with Mariachi Jalisco US, blues with Hezekiah Early and the Houserockers and the Wayne “Blue” Burns Band, a traditional Easter Rock celebration, country with Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, Natchitoches favorite Ed Huey, bluegrass with the Clancey Ferguson Band, French Creole la la music with Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys and many more.

The 2017 Festival will also include a Cajun accordion workshop led by Ray Abshire and Steve Riley. With three music stages, Cajun dance lessons, narrative sessions, folk foods, traditional crafts persons and exhibits and Kidfest, the Festival audience will be greatly edified, enlightened and entertained at the 38th annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival, Rasmussen said.

The Louisiana Folklife Center was established at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana to identify, document, and present Louisiana’s cultural and folk traditions and to provide public access to this material via the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit For more information contact, call (318) 357-4332, or check out the Louisiana Folklife Center on Facebook.