The North Carolina Folk Festival in downtown Greensboro looks like it may be getting some much appreciated state help.
On Thursday, Feb. 7, NC Rep. Jon Hardister filed a bill – called simply the NC Folk Festival Funds bill – that would provide a $100,000 state grant for the festival that’s held in Greensboro. State Reps. John Faircloth, Pricey Harrison and Amos Quick joined Hardister as primary sponsors of the bill.
Hardister said on Thursday that he believes legislators representing other parts of North Carolina will support the move as well.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. “I will do my best to make it happen.”
From 2015 to 2017 the National Folk Festival was hosted by Greensboro. The National Folk Festival moves every three years with the goal of providing the impetus to start local folk festivals that will continue the tradition. The first North Carolina Folk Festival was held in 2018 and like the national festival it is a free, three-day “celebration of cultural roots and heritage.” The North Carolina Folk Festival is scheduled for Sept 6 thru Sept. 9 in 2019. It features performances, demonstrations and crafts by musicians, dancers and artists. During the festival, groups perform on multiple stages while attendees have the opportunity to shop for items at the many booths that line the streets.
Over 500,000 people have attended the folk festivals in Greensboro since 2015, with more than 150,000 attending the first North Carolina Folk Festival last year to enjoy the music and other attractions. The annual economic impact is estimated to be about $15 million, given what festival goers spend on accommodations, travel, food and other things.
Hardister said the $100,000 from the state may come in one of two ways.
“It could end up passing as a bill or it could be incorporated into this year’s budget,” he said.
According to Hardister, the festival doesn’t just promote Greensboro – it promotes the state as a whole. He said the festival draws people from across the Southeast and even from other countries.
In a Feb. 7 press release, Faircloth mirrored the sentiments about the festival’s importance: “Attendees and performers in the festival are, by their travel, lodging, meal and event purchases, benefitting not only Greensboro but indeed the entire Triad. It is yet another attraction that can make our part of the Old North State the place to be for both business and entertainment.”
In the same release, Quick also offered his support, stating, “The North Carolina Folk Festival is a wonderful event that brings together disparate segments of our state and nation to one place to enjoy the diversity of creativity. My support of this legislation is so that we may continue to enjoy this rich diversity and the economic boon it provides to the Piedmont.”
North Carolina Folk & Heritage Festival Board Member and Greensboro College President Larry Czarda praised the “bi-partisan effort” behind the bill and stated that the festival is “a true celebration of both our state and nation’s roots and heritage, as well as an economic engine and cultural tourist attraction.”