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Folk Festival receives 2018 NEA grant

NATCHITOCHES – The Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University has received a $10,000 Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the 2018 Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.

The Challenge America category features NEA support for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability.

“We are deeply honored that the festival has received a Challenge America award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, the director of the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. “This year’s festival will be a fun-filled, educational event that will highlight some of the finest folk music, food, crafts and cultural traditions in Louisiana.”

The grant was among more than $25 million awarded as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018.

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. These NEA-supported projects, such as this one to Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Folklife Center, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities and connections the arts bring.”

The 39th annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held on July 20-21 in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus in Natchitoches. The 2018 festival theme is “Celebrating Louisiana’s Folk Roots.” The festival will include a wide variety of traditional crafts, folk foods, Kidfest, three stages with live music, narrative sessions, music informances and a Cajun fiddle workshop, which will be free for Festival attendees. In addition, the annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship will be held in the Magale Recital Hall on the afternoon of July 21.

The 2018 festival will include classic country by Hugh Harris and the Drifting Cowboys with special guest Gina Forsyth, blues with Lil’ Buck Sinegal and Hardrick Rivers and the Rivers Revue Band, zydeco by Joe Hall and the Cane Cutters, French Creole la la music by Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys, Cajun music by Donny Broussard and the Louisiana Stars, Jo-El Sonnier and the Jambalaya Cajun Band. There will also be traditional acoustic folk music by the Back Porch Band and Smithfield Fair, swamp pop with Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, rockabilly with Jim Oertling and Friends and special performances by Estelle Brown (of the Sweet Inspirations) and guitar legend James Burton.
The festival audience will be greatly edified, enlightened and entertained at the Folk Festival, Rasmussen said.
The Louisiana Folklife Center was established at Northwestern State to identify, document and present Louisiana’s cultural and folk traditions and to provide public access to this material via the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit To learn about this year’s Folk Festival, go to