E.L. brings unique blend of sounds for Folk Festival
On Friday, the Great Lakes Folk Festival will invade East Lansing, bringing music and different cultures together for the three-day event.
The festival, — entering its 10th year of existence — will feature 17 musical groups and artists, a variety of food vendors and a Green Arts marketplace, which will showcase goods made by vendors who reuse and recycle materials. It will be held from Friday to Sunday and is put on with direction from MSU Museum.
Lora Helou, communications manager for MSU Museum and festival associate director, said she estimates about 90,000 people will attend the festival over the course of the weekend.
“It’s a tremendous showcase for the city of East Lansing and a great partnership between the city and the university,” she said.
Woody’s Oasis, 211 E. Grand River Ave., already has begun preparing for the influx of people. Manager Sarah Johnson said the restaurant was tripling the amount of its outdoor patio seating in order to accommodate the number of expected patrons. She said in past experience with the festival, the crowds have been large but manageable.
“The Folk Fest is usually pretty pleasant in terms of the customers and crowds it brings in,” Johnson said.
Woody’s Oasis is more likely to attract festival patrons because of the nature of the food and its relation to the culture being brought to the area, she added.
“With the Folk Festival, we probably get people who are more familiar with our food than from some of the other (summer) festivals,” Johnson said.
In honor of the festival’s 10th anniversary, organizers brought back popular acts from previous years. Helou said one of the folk festival’s strengths was the range of different artists selected to perform.
“We have a really eclectic range of musical styles,” she said. “While there might be some blues festivals, and Celtic or Cajun festivals, it’s really rare to see all of them in one place.”
However, performers were not selected only for their musical talents.
“We are featuring musicians who are both skilled performers but, at the same time, artists who are really steeped in a tradition and vested in sharing it with the audience,” Helou said.
Winfred Julien, lead vocalist and guitar player for reggae group Roots Vibration, is one of those artists. Julien said his performances are relatable to a wide variety of people.
“We give show of excitement, (cheer) and positivity,” he said. “It’s family entertainment, which spreads a good message for everyone.”