Florida Folk Festival: May 22 – 24, 2015, way up on the Suwannee

florida-folk-fest-Main-StageBy Bonnie Gross & Bob Rountree,, Special to, May 17, 2015 – WHITE SPRINGS — The Florida Folk Festival began with the music: It was 1953, and Pete Seeger and the Weavers had had a big hit recently with  Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene.” Folk music was exploding with acoustic guitar, coffee houses, banjos, beatniks and sing-alongs.

Sixty-some years later, the Florida Folk Festival is still held every Memorial Day weekend, and you’re sure to hear plenty of folk music.  But the event has broadened to celebrate Florida’s land, people and diverse cultural heritage.

The Florida Folk Festival is held annually on Memorial Day weekend on the banks of the historic Suwannee River at Stephen Foster Cultural Center State Park in White Springs, and it is ranked among the top 20 festivals in the southeast.

In addition to a full schedule of performances, you’ll find plenty to amuse and educate.

The festival focuses on traditional crafts — everything from split rail fences to henna tattoos.

And the food is not the same-as-everywhere festival food. Look for blue crab burritos, Jamaican patties, shrimp gumbo or Beulah Baptist Church’s chicken and dumplings dinner.

The mission of the Florida Folk Festival is to keep cultural traditions alive, so it emphasizes demonstrations and workshops. Visitors can learn how to square dance, make a pine needle basket or try out playing mandolin.