This weekend marks the continuation of one historic and musical event in the Philadelphia region.
The Philadelphia Folk Festival is back for another year of family-friendly performances and although it’s still virtual in 2021, the entertainment is certainly not lacking this go-around. This year, the festival is being dubbed The 59½ Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Pocket-Sized Edition and will take place Aug. 21-22.
The historic festival got its start in 1961 and is the longest continuously running outdoor music festival of its kind in North America. According to the website, the PFF is also the primary fundraising event for the Philadelphia Folksong Society (established 1957), which offers programs of presentation, participation and education throughout Greater Philadelphia and the nation. These programs present a cultural history of society and provide enjoyment to thousands of people of all ages while also preserving a vast variety of musical styles and historical perspectives. What also makes the Society unique is the fact that it’s solely operated by 2,400 dedicated volunteers.
Both the Philadelphia Folksong Society and the Philadelphia Folk Festival have become well-known around the country — so much so that most people camp out for three or four days just to soak up every last minute of this colorful extravaganza.
But for obvious reasons, that is a bit different this year. The decision to cancel the in-person portion came from the fact of the rising Delta variant numbers and the reality that since it’s a family-friendly event, not every age group would be ultimately eligible for the vaccine.
According to the official website, PFS is going forward with the online portion of the event to present extraordinary artists, both local and international, bringing them to audiences through an online digital festival experience as they did in 2020. The 59 1⁄2 Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Pocket Sized Edition will allow for the same great features of the 2020 Global Digital Festival, from digital campfires and campsites, to crafts and festival merch all online. Digital ticket holders have access to all stages through Aug. 31 plus access to the PFS archives for the entire month of August.
The line-up features: AC Sapphire, Dar Williams, Driftwood Soldier, Frigg, Heather Maloney, Hoppin’ Boxcars, Jackson Pines, Karian Casey, Lisa Jên, Matt Nakoa and much more with some fan favorites including Bettye Lavette, Livingston Taylor, Peggy Seeger, Dustbowl Revival, Dar Williams and more. The full line-up and schedule is available online.
“This pocket-sized edition of the Philadelphia Folk Festival is the perfect distillation of what makes our beloved event so special,” said Lisa Schwartz, Festival & Programming Director in a statement. “With folkfest.org, we can share some of the best music in the world with the world.”
For those who want a keepsake from past years or a full understanding about the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the PFF Book is available to purchase online. According to the website, inside are stories from volunteers and musicians alike both personal and legendary—including that time Bob Dylan came to the festival as an attendee. The Philadelphia Folk Festival has become such an important part of some people’s lives that the first thing they do at the beginning of each year is block off the weekend of “Fest,” as many call it because they can’t imagine a year where they don’t attend.
For more information on the Philadelphia Folk Festival, visit folkfest.org