About the Festival

Michigan State University Museum Produces Great Lakes Folk Festival, August 7 - 9, 2015

This unique fusion of art fair, music festival, county fair, multi-ethnic festival, hands-on activity workshops and celebration of cultural heritage will be held August 7-9, 2015 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 Folk Festival marketplace- featuring unique handmade crafts. 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. Primary collaborators for planning the Great Lakes Folk Festival include: The City of East LansingUniversity Outreach and Engagement at MSU, International Studies Program at MSU, WKAR and provincial and state folk arts programs of the Great Lakes region.

The Michigan State University Museum presents events and exhibits year round.

MSU Museum is a 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.

Donors, Sponsors and Support

The Great Lakes Folk Festival relies on cash and in-kind support from a variety of sponsors. The festival is also an audience-supported event and visitors are asked to consider a donation of $10 per person a day and/or to become a member of Great Friends. Contributions can also be made online.

Become a Sponsor and see this year's list of sponsors 

Become a member of Great Friends

Make an online donation

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 aesthetic and musicality of their community.

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

Performing Artist Inquiries

The Music Selection Committee is accepting artist submissions for the 2015 Great Lakes Folk Festival. 
Read the criteria above and if you feel you fit, please contact Pat Power- info below.

For more information, contact:

    Patrick Power
    Great Lakes Folk Festival
    Michigan State University Museum
    409 W. Circle Drive
    East Lansing , MI 48824

Email at glffbooking [at] gmail [dot] com

Great Lakes Folk Festival Marketplace Inquiries

The GLFF Marketplace is a rare venue in the art festival world for folk, traditional and “green” artists to market and demonstrate their traditional work to an audience. 

For more information:

Lynne Swanson - swansonl@msu.edu

Phone at 517-355-3304

Festival Details

  • Festival Map
    Will be posted in July of 2015
  • Admission
    Look for the Bucket Brigade and drop your generous donation in the buckets to help sustain this large-scale community event. Thanks to all our supporters, the Great Lakes Folk Festival is community supported event.
  • Schedule
    Will be available in July of 2015
  • Information Booths
    General information is available throughout the festival at information booths located at several sites.
  • Bucket Brigade
    The folks who make up the Bucket Brigade are a happy corps of volunteers who offer festival goers an opportunity to help support the festival through on-site donations. Bucket Brigadiers carry decorated white plastic buckets throughout the festival to make giving easy. Each person who drops a donation in the bucket receives a thank you sticker. Every dollar raised helps support event production. Suggested donation: $10 per day, per person.

    Festival organizers feel it is important to make this festival accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status. Therefore, although there is no set admission price, all visitors are strongly urged to think about what this event means to them and to give what they can.

    PS: Think about what you would pay for one concert by one of our performers--let alone all of the performances the festival offers--or what you would pay to have your children participate in all of the activities in the Children's Folk Arts Activity Area. Even a $5.00 donation per visitor per day is a bargain

  • What If It Rains?
    Generally mid-August is quite pleasant with warm, sunny days and cooler evenings but as Michiganders know well, it can also be rainy and quite cool. Unless weather conditions are life threatening or dangerous, the festival goes on "rain or shine."
  • What To Bring?
    Many of the stages and activity areas are under tents to protect visitors and performers from hard rain or too much sun, but visitors are always encouraged to bring sunscreen, wear a hat, have an umbrella handy-- and a donation for the bucket brigade!
  • Pets at Festival
    Please do not bring pets to the Festival. The festival grounds are swirling with music and sounds, smells and thousands of people in compact seating areas and thoroughfares. Pavement gets hot in the summer sun and makes for uncomfortable dog paws. Please be considerate to your pets and fellow festival goers: leave pets at home when you visit the festival!
  • Rest Rooms
    Portable rest rooms are situated near stages throughout the site.
  • Lost and Found
    During the festival a lost and found will be available on site at the Main Information Booth located at the corner of Albert and Abbot Streets. Inquiries after the festival about lost and found items should be directed to the City of East Lansing Police Department.

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).

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.

Greater Lansing Connections

The Great Lakes Folk Festival is a founding member of the Greater Lansing Festival Alliance (GLFA). The mission of the organization is to facilitate, promote and support Greater Lansing, non-profit cultural and artistic festivals; and positively impact and enhance quality of life in the capitol region. GLFA is coordinated by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.
Logo for Greater Lansing Cultural Festivals

More Information

For more information about plans for the Great Lakes Folk Festival, call the GLFF phone line at 517.432.4533 or email pr@museum.msu.edu.

Media Contact

Please contact pr@museum.msu.edu for general inquiries.

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.

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
See the 2011 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos
See the 2012 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos

See the 2013 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos
See the 2014 GLFF web page -- with artist bios and photos