About the Festival

Michigan State University Museum Produces Great Lakes Folk Festival, August 10 – 12, 2018



This unique fusion of art fair, music festival, county fair, multi-ethnic festival, hands-on activity workshops and celebration of cultural heritage will be held August 10-12, 2018 in downtown East Lansing.

The Great Lakes Folk Festival showcases the traditional cultural treasures of the nation’s Upper Midwest and a sampling of the best of traditional artists from around the country and the world.


flauta1-e1462802565469The festival encourages cross-cultural understanding of our diverse society through the presentation of musicians, dancers, cooks, storytellers and craftspeople whose traditions are rooted in their communities.
The festival includes nearly 100 musicians or dancers in groups, who perform at least twice and sometimes as many as four times over the weekend. Also featured are traditional and other food vendors, and many other individual artists/demonstrators. There are four performance stages (including one with a 2,400 sq. ft. dance floor), children’s hands-on activities, and crafts demonstrations. In addition, there are special programs every year, which feature some aspect of traditional culture.

Under the direction of the MSU Museum’s Michigan Traditional Arts logosProgram–a statewide partnership program with the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA)–the festival also represents partnerships of civic, business, education and arts agencies. Primary collaborators for planning the Great Lakes Folk Festival include: The City of East LansingUniversity Outreach and Engagement at MSU, International Studies Program at MSU, WKAR and provincial and state folk arts programs of the Great Lakes region.

The Michigan State University Museum presents events and exhibits year round.

Music & Dance

queens11-e1462802710854The festival showcases performers who learned their skills within distinct communities and remain rooted in those communities. Their exposure to performance skills is usually at an early age, learned firsthand (often within their own families) and what they perform is an integral part of their particular culture.

In this modern world, traditional musicians have easy access to other music styles beside their own and their music often incorporates new influences. They often perform for audiences outside their own community. But the core of what traditional musicians do continues to be the music that expresses the aesthetic and musicality of their community.

This festival presents artists who best maintain their allegiance to their traditional roots.

Festival Details

  • Festival Map
    Will be posted in July of 2018
  • Admission
    Look for the Bucket Brigade and drop your generous donation in the buckets to help sustain this large-scale community event. Thanks to all our supporters, the Great Lakes Folk Festival is community supported event.
  • Schedule
    Will be available in July of 2018
  • Information Booths
    General information is available throughout the festival at information booths located at several sites.
  • Bucket Brigadecrowd1-e1462802678727
    The folks who make up the Bucket Brigade are a happy corps of volunteers who offer festival goers an opportunity to help support the festival through on-site donations. Bucket Brigadiers carry decorated white plastic buckets throughout the festival to make giving easy. Each person who drops a donation in the bucket receives a thank you sticker. Every dollar raised helps support event production. Suggested donation: $10 per day, per person. Festival organizers feel it is important to make this festival accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status. Therefore, although there is no set admission price, all visitors are strongly urged to think about what this event means to them and to give what they can.
  • What If It Rains?
    Generally mid-August is quite pleasant with warm, sunny days and cooler evenings but as Michiganders know well, it can also be rainy and quite cool. Unless weather conditions are life threatening or dangerous, the festival goes on “rain or shine.”
  • What To Bring?
    Many of the stages and activity areas are under tents to protect visitors and performers from hard rain or too much sun, but visitors are always encouraged to bring sunscreen, wear a hat, have an umbrella handy– and a donation for the bucket brigade!
  • Pets at Festival
    Please do not bring pets to the Festival. The festival grounds are swirling with music and sounds, smells and thousands of people in compact seating areas and thoroughfares. Pavement gets hot in the summer sun and makes for uncomfortable dog paws. Please be considerate to your pets and fellow festival goers: leave pets at home when you visit the festival!
  • Rest Rooms
    Portable rest rooms are situated near stages throughout the site.
  • Lost and Foundinfobooth1-e1462802633948
    During the festival a lost and found will be available on site at the Main Information Booth located at the corner of Albert and Abbot Streets. Inquiries after the festival about lost and found items should be directed to the City of East Lansing Police Department.

The Michigan State University Museum

The Michigan State University Museum is committed to understanding, interpreting, and respecting natural and cultural diversity. As Michigan’s land grant university museum, this commitment to society is met through education, exhibitions, research and the building and stewardship of collections that focus on Michigan and its relationship to the Great Lakes and the world beyond.

The Michigan State University Museum was founded in 1857 and is Michigan’s natural and cultural history museum. Its research, education, exhibition, and outreach programs serve the entire state.

Located on the MSU campus, on West Circle Drive and next to Beaumont Tower, the museum is open six days a week, free of charge (donations are welcome).

Michigan Traditional Arts Program

The MSU Museum’s Michigan Traditional Arts Program (MTAP) is a statewide arts partnership with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. MTAP promotes cross-cultural understanding in a diverse society through the documentation, preservation, and presentation of the state’s folk arts and folklife. Prior to co-producing the National Folk Festival from 1999-2001, MTAP produced the Festival of Michigan Folklife for 12 years, and curators and specialists are active in developing exhibitions, publications, and a wide variety of public programs.

Greater Lansing Connections

Logo for Greater Lansing Cultural FestivalsThe Great Lakes Folk Festival is a founding member of the Greater Lansing Festival Alliance (GLFA). The mission of the organization is to facilitate, promote and support Greater Lansing, non-profit cultural and artistic festivals; and positively impact and enhance quality of life in the capitol region. GLFA is coordinated by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.

More Information

For more information about plans for the Great Lakes Folk Festival, call the GLFF phone line at 517.432.4533 or email palagyis@msu.edu.