Since 1962, the non-profit Philadelphia Folksong Society has presented the Philadelphia Folk Festival, a four-day music and arts festival that takes place annually during the third week of August. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the festival, which begins tonight, August 18th, and runs through Sunday, August 21st. The event is run with the help of 2,500 volunteers, and has grown to host over 5,000 campers each year on its 40-acre location at Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township (near Schwenksville, PA).
This year’s festival theme is “collaboration,” according to a press release from Artistic Director Richard Kardon. “Imagine the possibilities,” said the other Artistic Director, Jesse Lundy. “What if Arlo Guthrie is backed up by the David Bromberg Big Band? Perhaps Jorma Kaukonen and Roy Book Binder will discuss the impact and play the music of the Reverend Gary Davis. Or, maybe Tom Rush, Tom Paxton and David Amram will perform together.”
WXPN Folk Show host Gene Shay has played a large role in Folk Fest, and in the Philadelphia and national folk music scene as a whole. As one of the “founding fathers” of PFF, he was instrumental in producing the first festival in 1962, and has since served as the emcee/master of ceremonies for every year since. Shay has been called “The grandfather of Philadelphia Folk Music” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as “The dean of American folk DJs” by The Philadelphia Daily News.
The WXPN connections don’t end there. On Thursday night at 7:20, World Cafe host David Dye will hold an exclusive concert featuring Terrance Simien And The Zydeco Experience, Amanda Shires, and Joel Plaskett Emergency. The concert as well as interviews will be broadcast on WXPN and World Cafe. Only attendees with All-Festival with Camping tickets will be eligible to attend. There will also be a Philly Local Showcase hosted by WXPN’s Helen Leicht featuring Suzie Brown and Jim Boggia on Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Camp Stage.
The complete performance schedule is available online here. A listing of the main stage performers can be found below.
Friday, August 19th (Main Stage)
2:30pm: Hoots & Hellmouth, Birdie Busch, US Rails, Hogmaw, Philadelphia Jug Band
7:30pm: Justine Townes Earle, Roy Book Binder, Alexis P. Suter Band, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Tempest, Dennis Hangey, John Flynn
Saturday, August 20th (Main Stage)
4pm: David Bromberg Big Band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
7:30pm: Arlo Guthrie, Jorma Kaukonen, Battlefield Band, John Hartford String Band, Angel Band, Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, The Campbell Brothers
Sunday, August 21st (Main Stage)
4pm: Dan Bern, Tom Paxton, David Amram, David Wax Museum, Tom Rush, The Wood Brothers, The Levon Helm Band, The Great Groove Band
All-festival ticket prices are listed below. There are many other individual day and evening ticket options, including specials for youths, available at the PFF website. For more information on ticketing, click here. To purchase tickets, click here.
All Festival (all day and evening events from Friday to Sunday) — $138.00
All Festival Youth ages 12-16 — $69.00
All Festival Child Camping — $10.00
All Festival Youth Camping– $94.00
All Festival/Tent Camping (all events from Thursday evening to Sun plus tent camping access) — $188.00
All Festival/Vehicle Camping* (all events from Thursday evening to Sunday plus Vehicle camping access) — $188.00
*Vehicle camping requires the purchase of an RV Fee ticket for each camping vehicle entering the campgrounds — $30.00 If you camp with a friend who owns the RV, just purchase the All Festival/RV Camping ticket.