Billy Dean performs during the Florida Folk Festival on May 26, 2017, at Stephen Foster Culture Center State Park. Dean is one of the featured performers at this weekend's Folk Festival.

WHITE SPRINGS, Fla. — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Park Service invites the public to the 67th annual Florida Folk Festival at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs.

The festival will be held Memorial Day weekend, Friday through Sunday, on the banks of the historic Suwannee River. Gates will open at 8 a.m. and opening ceremonies will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday.

During the three-day event, there will be more than 300 performances by Florida's greatest folk and roots artists, as well as and folk, blues, gospel, country, Latin, jazz, bluegrass, Caribbean and zydeco music.

Among the featured performers Friday night are John McEuen & The String Wizards, Rod MacDonald, Cortadito, Toney Rocks and the Firewater Tent Revival. Playing Saturday at the Folk Festival are John Anderson, Taller Balancé Bomba Afro-Borícua, Ben Prestage and Wild Shiners. The headliners for Sunday include Billy Dean, Tom Shed and Frank Thomas.

Recognized as a "Top 20 Event" by the Southeast Tourism Society, the festival has been a venue for folk artists since 1953. In addition to the full schedule of performances, visitors can participate in jam sessions, workshops and demonstrations, and purchase local food and merchandise from various vendors.

“Music is one of the most powerful tools for exploring and interpreting our relationship with the environment,” Florida State Parks Director Eric Draper said in a release. “The Florida Folk Festival is almost 67 years old now, and over the years the stories told there have become more diverse and greater in number than ever. I’m excited to enjoy the food, music and traditions that make the Florida Folk Festival one of the best events of the year.”

Each year, the Florida Department of State's Florida Folklife Program highlights different areas and cultures of Florida. The artists and traditions at the Folklife Area represent Florida's cultural diversity, the effects of immigration and migration, and the many ways that newcomers enrich the state today.

Advance tickets for the festival are $25 per day or $50 for the weekend. On the day of the event, tickets will be $30 per day or $60 for the weekend. Children under 6 years of age are admitted free of charge. Ticket prices for children between the ages of 6 and 16 will be $5 for the entire weekend.

The Florida Folk Festival will also mark the 40th anniversary of the Florida Folklife Program, which has funded nearly 200 apprenticeships, awarded 134 Folk Heritage Awards, produced albums, films and radio programs, created educational resources and documented countless tradition bearers presented annually at the Florida Folk Festival.

“I am thrilled to celebrate this milestone anniversary for one of the nation’s oldest state folklife programs,” Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee said in a release. “The Florida Folklife Program has illuminated the state’s traditional arts and culture for Floridians and visitors alike, and preserved Florida’s vibrant cultural heritage, connecting the past to the present. I look forward to their continued success over the next forty years and beyond.”

This milestone celebration begins by launching a new logo design that represents the three defining characteristics of Florida folklife: diversity, the evolution of culture and the interplay between Florida’s environment and culture. The Folklife Area at the Florida Folk Festival will showcase a wide array of traditional arts reflective of these themes, as well as a “Folklife at 40” panel featuring past State Folklorists who will share stories from the field and discuss the program’s legacy.

“The Florida Folklife Program has been successful because of the commitment of the folklorists and artists who work to preserve Florida’s traditions for future generations,” State Folklorist Amanda Hardeman Griffis added in a release. “Their stories remind us how we got here and the impact of the program on Florida’s history. I’m proud to be part of the Florida Folklife Program during its 40th anniversary celebration.”

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