By Kevin Shannahan
NSU’s Prather Coliseum was transformed into the finest musical venue in Louisiana for the 2017 Folk Life Festival, July 14-15. Over 2,000 festivalgoers were entertained by 19 musical acts from all over the state performing on three stages. In addition to the music, 55 craft booths from Louisiana and Texas were joined by the National Park Service and Fort Jean St. Baptiste on the main floor. These vendors sold homemade crafts and educated festival goers on various Louisiana and Native American folk ways.
Ed Huey, a stalwart of the local musical scene, was named as the honorary Chair of the 2017 inductees into the Hall of Master Folk Artists. He was joined in the Hall of Fame by four other artists and musicians who represent a variety of musical and artistic genres.
Joe Suchanek of Hackberry was named the 2017 Louisiana State Fiddle Champion.
The festival is a long standing favorite as evidenced by its loyal following. Many of the attendees and performers have been coming for years. Natchitoches residents Tommy and Shirley Dunagan have come to the festival with a group of friends for over 25 years. Headliner Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue is likewise a repeat favorite.
The Folklife Festival, now in its 38th year, is designed to showcase, preserve and perpetuate Louisiana’s unique culture. This year’s theme was “Keeping Tradition Alive” featuring established favorites. For a modest admission fee, the Festival features two solid days of superb music and arts and crafts.