The 42nd Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held on Saturday, July 23rd in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum, located at 220 South Jefferson Street at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. The Festival will continue throughout the day from 9:00am until 10:00pm. The family-oriented festival is fully wheelchair accessible.
The 2022 Festival theme is “Stronger Together: The Power of Traditional Culture”. “We are so grateful to once again be able to hold a face-to-face event,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the festival and NSU’s Louisiana Folklife Center. “This year’s theme will celebrate the ways in which folk traditions bring people together in positive ways, providing solace, hope, cheer, and inspiration. We are truly stronger together than apart!”
Fiddler extraordinaire Amanda Shaw is the honorary chair of the festival and will be the headline performer with her band Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys. Shaw will be also inducted in the Louisiana Folklife Center Hall of Master Folk Artists. Said Rasmussen, “It is our honor to recognize Amanda Shaw as an incredibly exciting musician, whose distinctive sound captures the vibrancy of Louisiana’s traditional culture. Louisiana music is alive and well because of artists like Ms. Shaw who inspire others to follow in her steps.” The other artists to be inducted into the Hall of Master Folk Artists in 2022 are music instrument maker R.V. Couch, handmade wire toymaker Elvin Shields, and the Louisiana Czech Heritage Dancers.
According to her bio: “Music has been engrained into Shaw’s world for as long as she can remember. She has become one of the most recognizable brands in Louisiana music. From national appearances on the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, the Today Show’s Roker-thon, and the Rosie O’Donnell Show, to a once-in-a-lifetime performance with Cyndi Lauper, Shaw’s magnetic presence helped her to build an extraordinary following of fans and supporters. Younger fans look up to Shaw for her pristine fiddling skills and sassy sense of style, while order fans respect her strong work ethic and sincere sensibility, but audiences of all ages agree that Shaw’s musical talent and appealing personality give her a special flair and make her an incredible representative of Louisiana’s melting pot of music.
Shaw works extremely hard to give her fans the best she has to offer, and her passion for her craft has been recognized with prestigious honors and awards throughout her career. The local artist has received dozens of honors including the Big Easy Award for Best Female Entertainer, Louisiana Music Hall of Fame Future Famer, Offbeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat Singer/Songwriter of the Year and many, many others. In the past, she has also collaborated with Grammy award-winning musicians, such as Chubby Carrier, and renowned songwriters, including Matthew Gerrard, to give her fans a superior way to experience Louisiana-rooted, world-class music.”
“Growing up in the music industry, I have had the chance to tell my story to an international audience,” says Shaw. “I have traveled many places and experienced many cultures, but I never lose sight of my Louisiana roots. My intention with my music is to bring a little bit of Louisiana culture with me everywhere I go.”
The festival offers three stages of music, with free Cajun and zydeco dance lessons taught by the Cajun French Music Association Dance Troupe, Cajun by Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, zydeco by The LaCour Trio and Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie, French Creole la la music by Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys, and dancing to Golden Oldies from the 50s and 60s with the popular band Flashback. There will also be traditional Native American songs and dances by the Caddo Culture Club, lion dance performances by the Rising Dragon Lion Dance Team and the Louisiana Czech Heritage Dancers, gospel by Joyful Sounds, a musical tribute to the late blues artist Hardrick Rivers, Celtic music by the Haggis Rampant Celtic Band and the Thistle Dancers and Pipers, and a special performance by the Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble. The Festival will also include numerous food vendors offering traditional Louisiana cuisine. Outdoor activities include demonstrations of traditional blacksmithing and black pot cooking. A child-friendly, hands-on demonstration of a 19th century wash day will also be presented.
The Annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship will be held at 1:00pm in the Magale Recital Hall. There will be a non-championship class and a championship class. A twin fiddle category will also be held. Registration is at noon in the first-floor foyer outside Magale Recital Hall. The Fiddle Championship winner will perform on the main stage in Prather Coliseum at 4:30pm.
The Festival includes several opportunities for patrons to engage directly with Louisiana folk culture. An interactive workshop titled “Beginning Cajun Guitar” will be held at noon. Taught by Cajun guitarist Yvette Landry and fiddler Beau Thomas, the workshop will focus on playing rhythm guitar in traditional Cajun music using open and closed guitar chords. Several traditional Cajun songs will be used as examples. The workshop will also demonstrate how to incorporate “bass runs” when changing from chord to chord in order to add bass and rhythm when playing as part of a traditional Cajun ensemble. Participation in the Cajun guitar workshop will be free for members of the Festival audience. The guitar workshop replaces a harmonica workshop which was cancelled due to the illness of the instructor.
“The Festival attempts to bridge the distance between artists and the Festival patrons, thus breaking the artificial barriers between artists and audience,” said Rasmussen. “Rather than watching from the sidelines, everyone who takes part in these activities will share and engage in Louisiana’s rich culture.” Narrative sessions include a presentation on Acadian brown cotton, an introduction to Native American Caddo traditions, and music “informances” by Amanda Shaw, Geno Delafose, and Goldman Thibodeaux.
More than 75 crafts vendors have been invited to display and discuss their traditional work with Festival patrons. Craftspeople are expected to display beadwork, baskets, cowhide chair covers, alligator jewelry, Pysanky eggs, Native American crafts, and pottery. Other expected craftspeople will display needlework, wood carvings, handmade toys and dolls, paintings, sculpture, homemade soap, spinning & weaving, handcrafted knives, handmade brooms, walking sticks, folk art quilts, and more.
KidFest will once again be available from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Kidfest is an area dedicated to child-friendly activities and is a fun way for children to examine their own cultural and family traditions as well as those from around the state. Children 12 and under are admitted to the Festival free.
ASL interpretation, assistive listening devices, and audio description will be made available upon prior request for the cultural discussions in the Festival N-Club Room from 10:00am to 5:00pm, and for the interpretive music “informance” by the Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble from 10:15am to 11:30am. Please make requests for ASL interpretation, assistive listening devices, and audio description for these events by Friday, July 15th by contacting email@example.com or (318) 357-4332.
Support for the Festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, the Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation, and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.
Festival tickets are $10.00 at the door for all events, or $6.00 for an evening pass to all events after 5:00pm. For more information, call (318) 357-4332, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to louisianafolklife.nsula.edu.