JXN to Host the National Folk Festival 2025-2027

May 21, 2024

Rising Star Fife and Drum Band
Rising Star Fife and Drum Band
Credit: Josh Martin

The National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) is excited to announce that Jackson has been named the official 2025-2027 National Folk Festival Host City. Jackson was among 42 cities nationwide that competed for the honor of hosting the nation’s preeminent traveling celebration of traditional arts and culture for a three-year stay in 2025, 2026, and 2027. The announcement was made today at a press conference by Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba of the City of Jackson and Blaine Waide, executive director of the NCTA. First Lady of Jackson Dr. Ebony Lumumba also gave remarks. To provide a taste of what's to come, several artists were on hand to perform, including Jackson's own Bobby Rush, the Rising Stars Fife & Drum Band from Coldwater, MS, and Max and Josh Baca from the nation's premier conjunto tejano band, Los Texmaniacs. The festival will begin its three-year stay in Jackson in November of 2025.

The prestigious National Folk Festival is the nation’s longest-running traditional arts event, a free, three-day, outdoor multicultural celebration of music, dance, and traditional arts. During its three-year residency, the National Folk Festival will draw over 330,000 visitors to downtown Jackson, generate over $60 million in long-term economic impacts for the city and the region, and lay the groundwork for a locally produced festival to continue after the

National moves on to its next site.

Produced by the non-profit the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the National Folk Festival has been presented in nearly 30 cities across the country since its inception in 1934, from Richmond, VA, and Butte, MT, to Lowell, MA, and St. Louis, MO. The NCTA partners with communities across the nation to present the National Folk Festival, free to the public, for three years with the understanding that the local host community intends to continue its own festival once the National’s residency ends.

“On behalf of the City of Jackson, I want to express how excited and honored we are to host the National Folk Festival,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. “We like to say that Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music, and we’re bringing the festival home.”

Jackson was chosen in a nationwide competitive process that began last spring. A proposal was submitted by the City of Jackson’s Planning and Development Department. NCTA representatives visited Jackson last November to tour the city to evaluate its suitability for the multiple-stage event. The Mayor’s Office, Visit Jackson, Downtown Jackson Partners, the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, the Community Foundation for Mississippi, the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Humanities Council, and Visit Mississippi came together and were instrumental in making the case for Jackson to be named host city.

“Jackson has been impressive throughout this process, and the NCTA together with its board of directors is inspired and energized to begin this partnership in such a culturally rich community,” said NCTA Executive Director Blaine Waide. “Mississippi is blessed with an exemplary legacy of arts and culture, and we could not be more excited to launch this festival in Jackson’s historic downtown while showcasing our nation’s finest traditional artists alongside celebrations of the state’s vibrant cultural traditions.”

“This marks the first time the National will be presented in Mississippi. City, regional, and state support has been integral to making it possible.”

The festival will bring as many as six stages of continuous music, including a dance pavilion, as well as traditional crafts, regional and culturally diverse foods, storytelling, parades, and folklife demonstrations to downtown Jackson. It is committed to representing the artistic traditions of all Americans, from those generations old to more contemporary forms of expression. With many thousands in attendance each year, the National Folk Festival will become a major new signature arts event for the city.

The second year of the National’s residency in Jackson in 2026 will coincide with the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The festival will be an official event for Mississippi’s statewide efforts to commemorate the semiquincentennial, known as America250.