August 12-14, 2011

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Information: About the Festival

Michigan State University Museum Produces
Great Lakes Folk Festival

This unique fusion of arts fair, music festival, county fair, multi-ethnic festival, hands-on activity workshops and celebration of cultural heritage will be held Aug 12-14, 2011 in downtown East Lansing.

The Great Lakes Folk Festival showcases the traditional cultural treasures of the nation's Upper Midwest and a sampling of the best of traditional artists from around the country and the world.

The festival encourages cross-cultural understanding of our diverse society through the presentation of musicians, dancers, cooks, storytellers and craftspeople whose traditions are rooted in their communities.

The festival includes nearly 100 musicians or dancers in groups, who perform at least twice and sometimes as many as four times over the weekend. Also featured are traditional and other food vendors, craft vendors and many other individual artists/demonstrators. There are four performance stages (including one with a 2,400 sq. ft. dance floor), children's hands-on activities, crafts demonstrations, and Green Arts marketplace. In addition, there are special programs every year, which feature some aspect of traditional culture.

Under the direction of the MSU Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program--a statewide partnership program with the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA)--the festival also represents partnerships of civic, business, education and arts agencies. Collaborators for planning the Great Lakes Folk Festival include: The City of East Lansing, WKAR/Radio, MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online, The Ten Pound Fiddle, Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Michigan Humanities Council, Center for Great Lakes Culture at Michigan State University, and provincial and state folk arts programs of the Great Lakes region.

The Michigan State University Museum presents events and exhibits year round. Click here for more information.

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MSU Museum is Smithsonian Affiliate!

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. is the world's largest museum and research complex, and the MSU Museum now works with the Smithsonian to develop new programs for the Great Lakes Folk Festival and other museum initiatives. Click here for more information!

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Donors, Sponsors and Support

In order to continue making this family-friendly festival a free event, the Great Lakes Folk Festival relies on cash and in-kind support from a variety of sources, including Michigan State University, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of East Lansing. Other major primary sponsorships are being sought from public and private sources. The festival suggests that visitors consider a donation of $10 per day.

Go to Sponsors page
Go to Friends of the Festival page
Go to Make-a-Donation page

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Music & Dance

The festival showcases performers who learned their skills within distinct communities and remain rooted in those communities. Their exposure to performance skills is usually at an early age, learned firsthand (often within their own families) and what they perform is an integral part of their particular culture.

In this modern world, traditional musicians have easy access to other music styles beside their own and their music often incorporates new influences. They often perform for audiences outside their own community. But the core of what traditional musicians do continues to be the music that expresses the aesthetics and musicality of their community.

This festival presents artists who best maintain their allegiance to their traditional roots. 

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Performing Artist Inquiries

The Music Selection Committee is no longer accepting artist submissions for the 2011 Great Lakes Folk Festival. Please send information, for consideration for 2012 to:

For more information, contact: Email at glffbooking [at] gmail [dot] com

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Folk Arts Marketplace Inquiries

Please contact: Phone at 517-432-GLFF or email at

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Festival Details
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The Michigan State University Museum

The Michigan State University Museum is committed to understanding, interpreting, and respecting natural and cultural diversity. As Michigan's land grant university museum, this commitment to society is met through education, exhibitions, research and the building and stewardship of collections that focus on Michigan and its relationship to the Great Lakes and the world beyond.

The Michigan State University Museum was founded in 1857 and is Michigan's natural and cultural history museum. Its research, education, exhibition, and outreach programs serve the entire state.

Located on the MSU campus, on West Circle Drive and next to Beaumont Tower, the museum is open seven days a week, free of charge (donations are welcome).

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Michigan Traditional Arts Program

The MSU Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program (MTAP) promotes cross-cultural understanding in a diverse society through the documentation, preservation and presentation of the state's folk arts and folklife. Prior to co-producing the National Folk Festival from 1999-2001, MTAP produced the Festival of Michigan Folklife for 12 years, and curators and specialists are active in developing exhibitions, publications, and a wide variety of public programs.

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More Information

For more information about plans for the Great Lakes Folk Festival, call the GLFF phone line at 517.432.GLFF (517.432.4533) or email

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Media Contact

Lora Helou, Information & Museum Services, MSU Museum, (517) 432-3357 or

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Highlights of The National Folk Festival in East Lansing, 1999-2001

See highlights from National Folk Festival 2001, National Folk Festival 2000 and National Folk Festival 1999, preceding the Great Lakes Folk Festival.

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Highlights of The Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing

See the reconstructed 2002 GLFF web page -- with Artist info only
See the 2003 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos.
See the 2004 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos.

See the 2005 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos
See the 2006 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos
See the 2007 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos
See the 2008 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos
See the 2009 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos

See the 2010 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos

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