NSU’s Prather Coliseum was transformed into the finest musical venue and restaurant in Louisiana for the 2023 Folk Life Festival, July 22. Thousands of festivalgoers packed NSU’s Prather Coliseum to be entertained by an eclectic variety of musical acts and presenters from all over Louisiana and surrounding states. In addition to the music, over 65 vendors from Louisiana and surrounding states sold books and crafts as well as educating festival goers on various Louisiana and Native American folk way. Festivalgoers who ventured outside could see a blacksmith from the LSUS Pioneer Heritage Center demonstrating blacksmithing as well as a representative from the West Baton Rouge Museum in period dress demonstrating laundry day in the days before machines.
NSU alumna and educator on Native-American culture Rhonda Gauthier was named as the honorary Chair of the 2023 Folklife Festival. She was joined onstage by her fellow 2023 inductees into the Louisiana Folklife Center Hall of Master Folk Artists. This accomplished and eclectic group ranged from Ms. Gauthier to Country Musician Hugh Harris and the Broussard Family Jure. Jure is a hauntingly beautiful style of African American folk music. Dr. Lisa Abney, retiring NSU faculty member and longtime fixture of the Folklife festival since its inception, was given the “Folklife Angel Award.”
The festival is a long-standing favorite as evidenced by its loyal following. Many of the attendees and performers have been coming for years. The loyal following and the festival’s new friends kept the dance floor moving and the concerts well attended.
The Folklife Festival, now in its 43rd year, is designed to showcase, preserve and perpetuate Louisiana’s unique culture. This year’s theme was “Celebrating Louisiana’s Cultural Gumbo”, a fitting theme for our state’s unique mixture of cultures. For a modest admission fee, the Natchitoches/NSU Folk Festival features a solid day of superb music, crafts, food and above all, fun.