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Natchitoches - NSU Folk Festival

Natchitoches – The 44th Annual Natchitoches – NSU Folk Festival will be held on Saturday July 20th in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum located at 220 South Jefferson Street at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. The festival’s curated showcase of Louisiana folk musicians, food vendors and traditional crafts persons will open at 9 a.m. with live entertainment scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The family-oriented festival is fully wheelchair accessible. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets are $10 at the door for all events, or $6 for an evening pass to all the events after 5 p.m.

In honor of this year’s theme, The Old Songs Live Forever, the festival will feature three stages of music, with performances by Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, Sonny Gullage and the Blues Groovers, Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe, the Forest Huval Cajun Band, Brandon Degeyter and the Mire Playboys, the Armadillo Jackal Band, Fire of Tierra Caliente, the Rick Adams Band, the Thistle Dancers and Pipers, the Zion Harmonizers, and traditional songs and dances by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe. The Festival will also include a performance by Grupo de Danza Folklorica Mexicana Ketzaly, a musical patriotic tribute by the Victory Belles performing World War II – era songs in three-part harmony. The festival will also include numerous food vendors offering traditional Louisiana cuisine. Outdoor activities include demonstrations of traditional blacksmithing and Dutch oven cooking. A child-friendly hands-on demonstration of a 19th century wash day will also be presented.

The Festival will include a Jambalaya Cookoff, in which professionals and hobbyists alike can compete in one of multiple categories and demonstrate their cooking skills. Registration and the Cooks’ meeting will take place at 8 a.m. Tasting and judging will begin at 12:30 p.m., with the winners announced at 3:30 p.m. There is no fee to compete in the Cookoff. Jambalaya must be cooked on-site outside of Prather Coliseum.

The Annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship will be held at 1 p.m. 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 5 p.m.

The Festival includes several opportunities for patrons to engage directly with Louisiana folk culture. Fiddler Clancey Stewart will lead free square dance lessons accompanied by live music from the Willie Stewart Bluegrass Band. Festival patrons can also take advantage of free Cajun and Zydeco dance lessons taught by the Cajun French Music Association Dance Troupe. 

“The Festival bridges the distance between artists and the festival patrons, thus breaking the artificial barriers between artists and audience,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the festival and NSU’s Folklife Center. “Rather than watching from the sidelines, everyone who takes part in these activities will share and engage in Louisiana’s rich culture.”

More than 80 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, handmade soap, spinning & weaving, handcrafted knives, handmade brooms, walking sticks, folk art quilts and more. 

KidFest will be held in the festival N-Club Room from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and features presentations on Delta music, Day of the Dead celebrations, music preservation, Native American traditional songs and dances, and Louisiana French narratives, with music informances on the blues with Sonny Gullage and the Blues Groovers and gospel music with the Zion Harmonizers. ASL interpretation, assistive listening devices and audio description for these cultural discussions will be made available upon prior request. For a full schedule of events, as well as registration forms to participate in the Louisiana State Fiddle Championship and the Jambalaya Cookoff go to louisianafolklife,, or contact the Louisiana Folklide Center at (318) 357-4332 or email

Support for the Festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., the City of Natchitoches, the Louisiana Division of the Arts Decentralized Arts Fund Program, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council and the State of Louisiana. 

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