The 39th Annual Folklife Festival “Celebrating Louisiana’s Roots”



Kevin’s Gallery

NSU’s Prather Coliseum was once again transformed into the finest musical venue in Louisiana for the 2018 Folk Life Festival, July 19-20. Over 2,000 festivalgoers were entertained by a diverse group of 13 musical acts performing on three stages. Zydeco, Rockabilly, Blues and the World Music sound of the 50 Man Machine, complete with bagpipes, were just some of the styles available to listeners. In addition to the music, an eclectic group of craft booths were joined by the National Park Service, The Louisiana Office of State Parks, NSU’s Cammie Henry Research Center and The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches on the main floor. The vendors displayed and sold homemade crafts and educated festival goers on various Louisiana and Native American folk ways.

One of the highlights of the festival was the induction of six deserving artists into the Hall of Master Folk Artists. Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations, drummer D.J. Fontana, instrument maker Hilton Little, Rockabilly Hall of Famer Jim Oertling and Natchitoches’ own Rodney Harrington were presented with proclamations from the Louisiana House of Representatives, the U.S. Congress and Northwestern State University. World renowned folk artist Clementine Hunter was posthumously inducted as a Master Folk Artist and was represented by two of her great granddaughters and one of her granddaughters, who received her awards.

Ms. Clancey Stewart, a senior at NSU majoring in Business Administration from Florien was named the 2018 Louisiana State Fiddle Champion in both the Junior and Grand Division.

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. The local chapter of the 501st Legion, a group of Star Wars enthusiasts, made its second appearance at the festival as Star Wars characters prowled throughout the crowd searching for donors for the Lifeshare blood drive being held on site.

The Folklife Festival, now in its 39th year, is designed to showcase, preserve and perpetuate Louisiana’s unique culture. This year’s theme was “Celebrating Louisiana’s Folk Roots”. For a modest admission fee, the Festival features two solid days of superb music and arts and crafts.