August 12-14, 2011

Follow GLFF on facebook and !

History of the Festival

The Michigan State University Museum has a long history of producing outdoor festivals of traditional culture. In 1983, the MSU Museum produced its first series of outdoor showcases of Michigan's folk traditions at the annual 4-H Exploration Days in East Lansing. The “Michigan Whosestory?” Festival was presented over a weekend in 1987 and brought together over 75 musicians, storytellers, and crafts demonstrators.

As part of Michigan's 1987 sesquicentennial celebration of statehood, the MSU Museum staff worked closely with The Smithsonian Institution for the presentation of Michigan's cultural traditions in the national Festival of American Folklife. Through presentations by cooks, storytellers, musicians, craftspeople and others who represented the state's diverse regional, ethnic, and occupational heritage, over 1,000,000 visitors in Washington, D.C. were introduced to Michigan's folklife The MSU Museum then brought the festival program to East Lansing as the centerpiece of the first Michigan Festival - a showcase of the state's performing and creative arts. Renamed the Festival of Michigan Folklife (FMF), the event became the largest annual museum exhibition of the state's traditional cultural contributions. Over its twelve-year history, the Festival of Michigan Folklife provided a platform for presentation of over 1,400 artists--the vast majority had never been presented by any other arts organization in the state.

In 1999, the MSU Museum began a new three-year partnership - this time with the City of East Lansing and the National Council for Traditional Arts (NCTA) to produce the National Folk Festival. NCTA took primary responsibility for coordinating music programming and the MSU Museum was responsible for all other programming, including foodways, children, crafts, games, storytelling, and occupational arts.

In 2001, the National Folk Festival wrapped up its stay in East Lansing and moved on to Bangor, Maine, where it was presented through 2004. The National left another new folk Festival in it's wake. Bangor now hosts the American Folk Festival the 4th weekend in August. In 2005 the National moved to Richmond, Virginia. After Richmond was home to the National for 3 years, they introduced the Richmond Folk Festival in 2008.  In 2008- 2010, the National was presented in Butte, Montana. Butte will host the inaugural Montana Folk Festival July 8-10, 2011. Nashville, Tennessee will be home to the 73rd, 74th and 75th National Folk Festivals.
The event will be held Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 2 - 4, 2011.

Logo of American Folk Festival, Bangor, Maine
July 8-10, 2011
Oct 14-16, 2011
Aug 26-28, 2011

Link to Introduction to Festival of Michigan Folklife 1987-1998

Link to 2000 National Folk Festival Performer information

Link to 2001 National Folk Festival Performer information

In 2002, the MSU Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program launched the Great Lakes Folk Festival, a continuation of its festival tradition.

Link to reconstructed 2002 Great Lakes Folk Festival Information

Link to 2003 Great Lakes Folk Festival Performer information
Link to 2004 Great Lakes Folk Festival Performer information

Link to 2005 Great Lakes Folk Festival Performer Information
Link to 2006 Great Lakes Folk Festival - entire site

Link to 2007 Great Lakes Folk Festival - entire site

Link to 2008 Great Lakes Folk Festival - entire site
Link to 2009 Great Lakes Folk Festival - entire site