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43rd Annual NJ Folk Festival Brings “Music of The People” to New Brunswick

Eclectic Performers Gather on Rutgers Day to Celebrate Folk Music
McDermott's Handy
McDermott's Handy of the Irish Music Hall of Fame perform for the crowd. Benjamin Clapp

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Cultural music, food, and crafts brought thousands of spectators to the historic Wood Lawn Mansion estate on Rutgers’ Douglass Campus on Saturday, April 29.

Event coordinators estimated attendance at over 10,000 - bolstered by the coinciding Rutgers Day festivities taking place throughout New Brunswick.

Crowd members perused over 100 handmade craft and food vendors, and enjoyed windy but warm spring weather on the expansive estate lawn.

The annual festival’s 2017 theme featured Turkish traditions, but a diverse array of singers and dancers showcased contemporary and traditional folk music with origins varying from the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation to the distant shores of Ireland.

During his performance with Michael Soga’s tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on the Pinelands Stage, vocalist Kevin Smith described the varied eclectic sounds of folk music as "the music of the people."

Winds picked up as the day grew long, creating an occasional but manageable challenge for the audio crew, supervised by Harry Grant - the festival’s chief audio supervisor for over 20 years.

For 43 years, the festival has delivered a family-friendly and free event to the public, while presenting the opportunity for students to study cultural folklore and produce a full-scale arts festival.

"While about half a dozen folk festivals in the United States are implemented by students, our Festival is the only one managed entirely by undergraduates as well as is the result of an academic course for credits," reads the festival's website.

The New Jersey Folk Festival is a non-profit event held annually on the last Saturday in April. More information about the festival can be found at: http://www.njfolkfest.org/