2018 Folk Festival will require preparation

Caroline O’Hare: “I think there is some misunderstanding about what it is. It isn’t Joni Mitchell. It isn’t Woodstock.”

You might say attending the National Folk Festival in Greensboro, N.C., was music to Caroline O’Hare’s ears.

After seeing performances and talking to organizers there last week, the enthusiastic O’Hare, the newly named director of next year’s National Folk Festival in Downtown Salisbury, returned with even more fervor.

Planned for Sept. 7 to 9, 2018, the festival will be in Salisbury three consecutive days and is expected to draw 80,000 to 100,000 people the first year.

O’Hare was in Greensboro with city officials including Mayor Jake Day, City Administrator Julia Glanz and Police Chief Barbara Duncan to learn about bringing a festival of such magnitude to Salisbury. The local contingency of about 12 learned how Greensboro handled city operations, transportation and police and fire coverage.

For Salisbury to accommodate so many people, “it’s going to take pretty much every hotel in Wicomico, Worcester and Sussex counties and then we still might not have enough,” City Council President Jack Heath said this week.

“That’s why we’re going to work on Airbnb, trying to put together rules and regulations,” he said.

He was referring to the online hospitality service that allows short-term leasing and rentals in private homes.

“Of course the city can handle this festival,” Mayor Jake Day said this week.

“Many smaller communities, smaller than us, have hosted this before and hosted festivals of this size. Look at Woodstock,” he said, referring to the historic music festival held on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y., in 1969. More than 400,000 people attended.

“Airbnb will be big and day tripping and camping are all part of how people will attend. This is absolutely not too big for Salisbury. Is there too much money for us to make? If there is, then I’m confused about economic development. In Greensboro, it was a $110 million dollar weekend for them,” Day said.

There are partnerships to bring buses to Salisbury from Ocean City and Sussex County, Day said.

He said he hadn’t heard about setting up campgrounds at Perdue Stadium or the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex, but that nearby campsites will certainly be used.

Heath said city leaders will discuss other areas suitable for camping.

“We’re within driving distance from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, New York City and Philadelphia, so there will be a lot of commuters. We may need less rooms than we think but that remains to be seen,” Heath said.

“I don’t think this is too big for Salisbury. There are 50,000 people in town working or shopping on a typical day.

“We’ve done a lot of homework. The mayor and a committee made the trip to Greensboro. I think that, when you consider the size, we’re more in the size of Bangor, Maine, which has done it. We’ve been in contact with other areas which are our size. I think things are going to start moving a lot quicker now that the manager has been hired,” Heath said.

O’Hare said she will be concentrating on “getting the word out, telling people what the folk festival is about.”

“I think there is some misunderstanding about what it is. It isn’t Joni Mitchell. It isn’t Woodstock,” she said.

She’ll be speaking to the Greater Salisbury Committee, Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce and other organizations about the festival that will bring traditional arts to the city.

“These are musicians who learn their craft from their parents and grandparents on back, for decades. Their whole purpose is to share their talent and keep the tradition alive, all different traditions from around the world,” she said.

O’Hare, who was chosen as local manager from more than a dozen applicants, was creative director for the morning TV program Live! With Kelly and Michael. She produced daily promotions, gave direction to on-air talent and oversaw a team of editors and graphic designers. She was a senior writer and producer for The Wendy Williams Show and a producer for MTV/Viacom.

She and her husband, Dan, a native of Berlin, met in New York. He wanted to raise their daughter, now 2, in the area where he grew up, so they moved to Salisbury. She was head of administration at Wicomico Day School before accepting the position as festival manager.

She will be “the city’s  direct line to the National Council for the Traditional Arts to ensure that the festival is a remarkable success for the entirety of its three-year residency in Salisbury,” according to a news release issued by the city.

“With myriad essential tasks, which require constant oversight, the position demands that the manager serve in multiple capacities, switching gears frequently, all while maintaining a sharp eye for detail. In addition to representing the festival, writing grants, and communicating with media outlets, Caroline will supervise the marketing of the festival and will work with the city, the NCTA and the festival’s executive committee to create fundraising materials,” the news release states.

Mayor Jake Day said her knowledge will make her invaluable as she manages the event, a traveling festival produced in partnership with communities around the country.

First held in 1934, the National Folk Festival is the oldest multicultural festival of traditional arts in the nation, and has been produced from its inception by the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

With no admission charge, the festival has been presented in 26 cities, with musicians and craftsmen from every state participating.

This week, Day unveiled the logo for the festival’s residence, created by Kacey Martin of Salisbury, an artist who earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Salisbury University.

She was asked to a design what Day called an “easily-identifiable logo which incorporated the city’s brand.”

“The piece needed to be scalable, and its components able to be shifted and changed to suit different treatments,” Day said.

Working with the mayor’s office and the National Council for the Traditional Arts, Martin made several designs. The final logo was chosen last week.

Martin, in a news release issued by the city, explained she “incorporated aspects of the city logo as well as including some of our rural charm and proximity to the ocean.”

“I hoped to design a logo that would not only be reflective of the area, but also serve as a nostalgic symbol for the many fun memories those who attend the festival will leave with.”

Day said the challenge was “to create a visual which would look as good on a poster as it does on a hat, a mug, a T-shirt or on video.”

“And, most importantly, it had to be worthy of the National Folk Festival’s distinctive history. The logo which Kacey delivered incorporates the Salisbury brand perfectly by marrying the sunrise over the Wicomico with the acoustic guitar – invoking both the folk arts and the beauty of our city and region. It is a design which Salisbury can proudly say identifies our time as the home of the National Folk Festival,” Day said.

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