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, East Lansing provided infrastructure and marketing support and the MSU Museum was responsible for all other programming, including foodways, children, crafts, games, storytelling, and occupational arts.

After hosting three successful National Folk Festivals, both the City of East Lansing and the MSU Museum were committed to continue the festival tradition. The Great Lakes Folk Festival, a fusion of both the model provided by the National Folk Festival and the Smithsonian Festival model that had been the hallmark of the Festival of Michigan Folklife, was launched in 2002. Click on the “Read More” links below to view more info about performers and program each year.

August 12 – 14, 2016

History
2016 Festival Poster

Musical Performers

Alash Ensemble | Tuvan Throat Singing | Kyzyl, Tuva
Arlene McDaniel |Swing Jazz | Bath, Michigan
Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen |Polka | Mt. Vernon, Iowa
Calan | Welsh Celtic | Swansea, Wales
Grace Chang |Chinese Harp (guzheng) | Yorktown Heights, New York
Masters of Harmony |A Cappella Gospel | Detroit, Michigan
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper |Bluegrass | Charlestown,

Read more »

August 7 – 9, 2015

History

Musical Performers

Bob Bernard| Waltz Fiddle| Lake City, Michigan
Dennis Stroughmatt et L’sprit Creole| French Creole | Albion, Illinois
Desafio Norteno | Northern Style Tejano | Grant, Michigan
The Downhill Strugglers | Old Time| Brooklyn, New York
Feufollet| Cajun | Lafayette, Louisiana
Genticorum | Quebecois | Montreal, Quebec
Grupo Azteca |Tejano| Allen Park,

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August 8 – 10, 2014

History
2014 poster image., Great Lakes Folk Festival.

Musical Performers

Bob Bernard| Waltz Fiddle| Lake City, Michigan
Seth Bernard and May Erlewine| Old-time Strings | Williamsburg, Michigan
Paulette Brockington |Swing Dance and Lindy Hop| Highland Park, Michigan
Paul Dahlin | Swedish Fiddle| Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thornetta Davis| Blues | Detroit, Michigan
Detour| Bluegrass | Central Michigan
Girsa |Irish Celtic| Pearl River, 

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August 9 – 11, 2013

History
Poster image for 2013 Great Lakes Folk Festival

Musical Performers

Paulette Brockington| Swing Dance and Lindy Hop | Highland Park, Michigan
Clear Fork Bluegrass Quartet | Bluegrass | Chardon, Ohio
Dendelion | Québécois | Sainte-Béatrix, Quebec, Canada
Les Poules a Colin | Québécois | Sainte-Béatrix, Québec, Canada
Mike Espy and Yakity Yak | Chicago and Memphis Blues | Fenton, Michigan
Kaivama | Finnish American | Minneapolis,

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August 10 – 12, 2012

History

Musical Performers

Denny Anderson and the International Main Street Polka Band | Polka | Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Bua | Celtic | Chicago, Illinois
Mehdi Darvishi and Saeed Kamjoo | Iranian Daf and Kamanche | East Lansing, Michigan and Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Joaquin Diaz | Dominican Merengue | Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The Freight Hoppers | Old Time String Band | North Carolina
Kis Szivek | Hungarian Children’s Dance | Detroit area
Claire Lynch |Bluegrass| Heritage,

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August 12 -14, 2011

History

Musical Performers

Johnnie Bassett  | Blues | Detroit, Michigan
Cats & The Fiddler | Bluegrass | Milford, Michigan
Calvin Cooke | Sacred Steel Guitar/Gospel | McDonough, Georgia
Detour | Bluegrass | Brethren, Michigan
Nadim Dlaikan | Arab-American Nay | Southgate, Michigan
Feufollet  | Cajun | Lafayette, Louisiana
Steven Greenman Klezmer Ensemble | Klezmer | South Euclid,

Read more »

August 13 -15, 2010

History
poster for 2010 Great Lakes Folk Festival

Musical Performers

Alberta Adams | Blues | Detroit, Michigan
Chulrua | Irish Celtic | US and Canada
De Temps Antan | Québécois | Montreal, Quebec, Canada
D.W. Groethe | Cowboy Poetry/Songs | Bainville, Montana
Imamyar Hasanov and Peyman Hadadi | Azerbaijan and Iranian | Washington D.C.
Kimo Hussey | Hawai’ian Ukulele | Honolulu, Hawaii
Klancnik &

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August 7 – 9, 2009

History
Poster, 2009 Great Lakes Folk Festival

Musical Performers

Alex Meixner Band | Polka
Berntson Family Band | Norwegian-American
Beyond the Pale | Klezmer
Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy | Blues
Gadelle | Acadian
Jesse McReynold and the Virginia Boys |  Bluegrass
Les Ross, Sr. and the Finnish American All-Stars |  Finnish American
Los Bandits de Michigan | Tex-Mex
Lost Bayou Ramblers | Cajun
Shotgun Party | Western Swing
Slide | Irish Celtic
Tumbao Bravo | Cuban/Caribbean

Michigan Heritage Awards

Les Ross,

Read more »

August 8 – 10, 2008

History
Poster image, 2008 Great Lakes Folk Festival

Musical Performers

Eddie Bond | Old-Time Banjo | Fries, Virginia
Jeffery Broussard &The Creole Cowboys | Zydeco | Lawtell, Louisiana
Cats and the Fiddler | Bluegrass | Milford, Michigan
Cephas & Wiggins | Piedmont Blues | Washington D.C.
Crooked Road Revue | Old-Time Revue | Virginia and North Carolina
Detour | Bluegrass | various Michigan plus Nashville, Tennessee
Mamadou Diabate | Malian Kora | Durham,

Read more »

August 10 – 12, 2007

History
Great Lakes Folk Festival poster - stylized lighthouse and sun

Musical Performers

Asani | Métis a cappella |Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Back of the Moon | Scottish Celtic | Glasgow, Scotland
Balfa Toujours | Cajun | Southwest Louisiana
Henry Butler | New Orleans Blues |Denver, Colorado
Carolina Chocolate Drops | African-American Old-Time String Band | Durham, North Carolina
Michele Choiniere | Franco-American Songs | St. Albans, Vermont
David Davis &

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August 11 – 13, 2006

History
2006 Great Lakes Folk Festival poster, a mackinaw bridge of musical notes

Musical Performers

Beyond the Pale | Klezmer | Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Eddie Bo with Johnny Basset and RJ’s All Stars | Blues | New Orleans, Louisiana and Detroit, Michigan
The Cottars | Celtic | Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Nadim Dlaikan Ensemble |Middle Eastern | Dearborn, Michigan
Feufollet | Cajun | Lafayette, Louisiana
Wayne Hancock | Juke Joint Swing | Austin,

Read more »

August 12 – 14, 2005

History
Poster image for 2005 Great Lakes Folk Festival- Orange Steel guitar on blue

Musical Performers

Carey and Lurrie Bell | Chicago Blues | Charlotte, North Carolina
Diouf | Quebegalese percussion | Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Georgia Sea Island Singers | Gullah music, dance, and stories | St. Simons Island, Georgia
Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble | Japanese taiko drumming | Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Bob Kravos and the Boys in the Band | Slovenian-American style polka music | Cleveland,

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August 13 – 15, 2004

History
poster, 2004 Great Lake Folk Festival. Guitar with wave like lines for strings

Musical Performers

Aziz Herawi |Afghan Lute | Sacramento, California
Nadim Dlaikan | Arabic Music | Southgate, Michigan
Bobby Hicks | Bluegrass | Antioch, Tennessee
“Little Sonny” Willis | Blues | Detroit, Michigan
Eddie Burns | Blues | Detroit, Michigan
Johnny Perona | Bones and Spoons | Calumet, Michigan
Universal Xpression | Caribbean | Detroit, Michigan
Danú | Irish Celtic | Donegal,

Read more »

August 8 – 10, 2003

History
Poster for 2033 Great Lakes Folk Festivall- line drawings on bright blocks of color

Musical Performers

Alberta Adams, Blues *
Barra MacNeils, Cape Breton Celtic
Johnnie Bassett, Blues
Stella Chiweshe, Mbira: Shona ceremonial music
Feufollet, Cajun*
Steven Greenman Klezmer Ensemble, Klezmer: Eastern European Jewish folk music
Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz, Old-time Country/Appalachian
George Kahumoku, Jr., Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar
Gaylor Klancnik Orchestra,

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August 9 – 11, 2002

History
2002 poster, Great Lakes Folk Festival, Aug 9 -11

Musical Performers

Howard Armstrong Trio | African-American old-time and blues Fiddle | Detroit, Michigan
Campbell Brothers | African-American Sacred Steel Guitar | Rush, New York
Liz Carroll | Irish Fiddle | Chicago, Illinois
Karan Casey | Irish Traditional Vocalist | Waterford, Ireland
Mamadou Diabate | West African Kora | Mali
Nadim Dlaikan | Arab-American Musician and Nay maker | Southgate, Michigan
David “Honeyboy” Edwards | Mississippi Delta-style blues | Chicago,

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National Folk Festival, August 10 – 12, 2001

History

Musical Performers

Tony Ballog and his Gypsy Orchestra | Michigan Hungarian Roma
Larry Bannock and the Golden Star Hunters | New Orleans Mardi Gras
Barachois  | Acadian French
Eddie Blazonczyk’s Versatones  | “Chicago-style” Polish Polka
Cherish the Ladies  | Irish
Dudley Connell and Don Rigsby | Bluegrass
Shemekia Copeland  | Blues
Geno Delafose &

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National Folk Festival, August 11 – 13, 2000

History

Musical Performers

Bahamas Junkanoo Revue |Parade Group
Boukman Eksperyans | Haitian misik rasin
BR5-49 |Honky-tonk and classic country
Broto Roy Trio | Ragas from North and South India
Solas |Irish Celtic
Beau Soleil avec Michael Doucet | Cajun
Appalachian Trail |Bluegrass
The Blind Boys of Alabama |African American gospel
The Butler Twins | Detroit blues
Eddie Pennington | Travis-style or thumbpicking
Henry Butler | New Orleans piano professor
Johnny Bellar | Dobro and lap steel
J.

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National Folk Festival, August 13 – 15, 1999

History
Poster 1999 National Folk Festival

Cephas and Wiggins | Piedmont blues
Chris Ardoin and Double Clutchin’ | Zydeco
Marcia Ball | Boogie Woogie Piano
Richard Hagopian with Hachig Kazarian | Arab American ‘Ud
Eileen Ivers | Irish Celtic
Bill Kirchen | “Dieselbilly”
Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano | Mariachi
Lynn Morris | Bluegrass
Los Pleneros de la 21 | Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena
Ramudi Sapera |  East Indian Kalbelia
John Styles | Punch and Judy puppetry
Natalie MacMaster | Cape Breton Fiddle
The Mighty Walker Brothers | Gospel Quartet
Mingo Saldivar y Sus Tremendos Curatro Espadas | Tejano
Yuqin Wang &

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