There is music in the air this weekend in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

The Folk Festival at the Prather Coliseum of Northwestaern State University is billed as a “purist” folk festival – meaning that only folk artists who are reviving a traditional Louisiana folk art or still working a Louisiana tradition are invited

This year’s 36th annual edition is themed “Backroads and Bayous: Celebrating Louisiana’s Rural Folklife.” Music, food, crafts, narrative sessions, and demonstrations will be featured. “The theme harks back to when Louisiana society and the larger Delta were based upon communal folkways,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the festival and the Louisiana Folklife Center. “Survival often meant banding together to engage in group activities and celebrations, when traditional ways of agriculture, craftsmanship and sociality meant tapping into wisdom that was tested not only in the fires of time but in lived experience.”Tickets can be purchased at Prather Coliseum on July 17 and 18. The ticket booth opens at 4:30 p.m. on July 17 and at 8 a.m. on July 18. The festival closes at 10:30 p.m. both nights.Children age 12 and under receive free admission to all events on both days. Ticket prices for adults are $5 per person for Friday, July 17; $8 per person for all events on Saturday, July 18; $5 per person for an evening pass to all events after 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 18.The Annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship will also be part of the Festival. The Fiddle Championship will be held July 18 at 1 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. There will be a non-championship class and a championship class. Registration is at noon in the second floor foyer outside Magale Recital Hall. At 12:15 p.m., James Linden Hogg will make a presentation on 19th Century Folk Music. The Fiddle Championship winner will perform on the main stage in Prather Coliseum at 5:30 p.m.Among the featured musical groups on Friday will be Joyful Sounds, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, an open bluegrass and country jam with Max and Marcy, The Haystax, the Jambalaya Cajun Band with D.L. Menard, Richard LeBouef and Two Step, Reasonable Facsimile, and Hardrick Rivers and the Rivers Revue Band. There will also be Cajun dance lessons on Friday and Saturday.Musical groups performing on Saturday are James Linden Hogg, The Fugitive Poets, the Bethlehem Bluegrass Band, the Back Porch Band, the Born Not Yets String Band, classic country with Graybow Riot, an open bluegrass and country jam with Max and Marcy, John and Karen Keane, fiddler Dennis Elliott, the Caddo Creek Band, and Rivers. Also performing on Saturday will be Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys, Kira Viator Weber and Bayou Beat, Nathan and Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha-Chas. Programs on Louisiana fiddle styles with Elliott and Ron Yule, Native American culture in the Delta with the Tunica-Biloxi singers and the Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble will be featured on Saturday. The Czech Dancers will also perform.Narrative sessions will include programs on French language, music, fiddling, canning and preserving, boat making, agriculture, Delta foodways, quilting and wood carving. Outside demonstrations such as blacksmithing and working cattle dogs will be held throughout the day on Saturday.More than three dozen craftspeople have been invited to display their traditional work on Saturday and discuss their work with those attending the Festival. Craftspeople are expected to display furniture, art, toys, dolls, jewelry, whips, musical instruments, baskets, beadwork and more.

For more information or call (318) 357-4332.