MSU Museum Announces 2017 Folk Festival Line-up

The roots, the rhythms and the richness of music, dance, arts and culture come to downtown East Lansing for the Michigan State University Museum’s annual Great Lakes Folk Festival, Aug. 11-13.

The music and dance program includes:

Anna & Elizabeth | Old-Time Ballads | Cedar Springs, VA
Bandolero Durán | Voices and Colors of Latin America | Detroit, MI
Bryan Bowers | Autoharp | Sedro-Woolley, WA
Chris Jones & The Night Drivers | Bluegrass | Nashville, TN
CommonWealth Dance Collective |Percussive Dance Ensemble | (Various points) Michigan
Connla | Irish Celtic | Armagh, Derry, Northern Ireland
Duane Malinowski | Slovenian/German/Czech Polka | Toledo, OH
El Guero Estrada | Tejano | Toledo, OH
Guy Davis | Blues | New York, NY
Heartland Klezmorim | Klezmer | East Lansing, MI
Joni Harms | Traditional Country Singer | Canby, OR
Sam Gleaves | Appalachian Banjo | Berea, KY
T’Monde | Cajun | Lafayette, LA

-Most groups play 2-4 times throughout the weekend, including sets on a 2,400-foot dance floor.
-Musicians from different groups take the stage in popular Traditions Showcases —  fiddlers, percussionists, accordion players — to share and compare traditions and techniques of their instruments.
-Also, for festival-goers to participate:
Ukulele Strum
Community Sing
Old-time Jam
Please consider donating to our CrowdPower campaign to bring back the Jam Tent!

A performance schedule will be set in July.

Exhibits, demonstrations, storytelling, marketplace, Kidlore children’s folk activities, Taste of Michigan Traditions foodways, and Heritage Awards make the Great Lakes Festival a one-of-a-kind celebration of culture, tradition and community where visitors can sample and savor the distinctive cultural expressions throughout the festival weekend.

Special programs for 2017 include:

Will to Adorn

The Will to Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity is a multi-year collaborative folk cultural research and public presentation project initiated by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. This project explores the diversity of African American identities as expressed through the cultural aesthetics and traditional arts of the body, dress, and adornment. This ongoing collaborative research is shared through public programs including the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Program. A special “Will to Adorn” station will be featured at the Great Lakes Folk Festival where festival goers can share their stories and view objects of adornment.

Queer Traditions Summit
In conjunction with the Great Lakes Folk Festival, the inaugural Queer Traditions Summit QTS takes place in East Lansing August 10 and 11. QTS is a two-day event exploring queer folklife: the everyday culture, aesthetic expressions, and traditional arts of LGBTQIA+ people in Michigan, nationally, and internationally. The QTS will include roundtable discussions, paper presentations, participatory workshops, performances, a film screening, and a keynote speaker.

Arts and Health
Many cultures and communities have a long history of traditional arts, medicines and practices that have helped to sustain healthy living and address health challenges. Around the world, new attention is being given to the ways in which the arts and traditional knowledge about healing and wellness can address contemporary health issues. Attendees will learn about arts and health through panel discussions and exhibits.

Campus and Community
This program features exhibits and presentations of exemplary collaborative projects where MSU faculty and staff have co-created partnerships that respond to community issues, needs, challenges, or opportunities.

Water Moves MSU
Michigan State University launched Water Moves MSU, a university-wide initiative fostering scientific innovation and cultural and artistic expression inspired by water. The 18-month initiative aims to inform and educate the campus and greater community about water-related research, creative work and cultural outreach and engagement happening at MSU. The Great Lakes Folk Festival will be featuring a number of water related arts and culture programs.

Great, Guaranteed!

2017 Michigan Heritage Awards

Each year at GLFF, the MSU Museum presents the Michigan Heritage Awards recognizing the state’s leading tradition-bearers in music, material culture and community leadership. This year’s honorees are: Bruce Bauman of Remus (Mecosta County) for community leadership in old time music and dance; Dan Gorno [posthumous award] (Antrim County) for percussive and waltz dance and square dance calling; Anshu Varma of East Lansing (Ingham County) for menhdi and Indian American cultural traditions.

The Marketplace returns this year with more recycled and upcycled green goods, from jewelry to garden and fiber art, and sculpture. The MSU Museum also showcases master artists in textiles, basketry and other traditional arts. (Attention prospective vendors: apply at; search for MSU Museum’s Great Lakes Folk Festival.)

Children’s Area ‘Kidlore’ Activities
Kids will have the opportunity for hands-on experiences inspired by the artists and traditions of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program .

Michigan Food Vendors: come and sample the unique, eclectic, local and artisanal products these vendors provide!

The festival site — across the street from the MSU campus — downtown East Lansing.

Festival fast facts:
Festival hours are:  Friday, Aug. 11, 6 – 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 12, noon – 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 13, noon – 6 p.m.  For more information, call the MSU Museum at (517) 432-GLFF (4533) or e-mail

Admission is by donation (suggested $10 per day) and contributions leading up to the event and on-site — sustain GLFF.  Festival friends can make donations leading up to the event online at or at the MSU Museum.

Parking is available in downtown ramps and across Grand River Avenue on the MSU campus (in designated areas; free on weekends). GLFF also provides bike parking on-site.

More than 300 agile volunteers assist the MSU Museum in staging the event – from artist transportation, children’s activities, information booth, site set-up and teardown, ice delivery and visitor surveys. Volunteer registration now open!

The Great Lakes Folk Festival is presented by the Michigan State University Museum, Michigan’s first Smithsonian affiliate. The MSU Museum’s Michigan Traditional Arts Program researches, documents, preserves, and presents our shared heritage and cultural expressions. Primary financial support for GLFF comes from Michigan State University Office of the Provost, University Outreach and Engagement, the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of East Lansing, and many MSU departments.  In addition, nearly 100 corporations, foundations and organizations also support GLFF annually, as well as individual donors, “Great Friends.”