The 75th National Folk Festival was an astounding success, bringing 100,000-plus people to downtown Greensboro Sept. 11-13. It was also a tremendous gift to our city, thanks to the support of so many, including more than 1,000 volunteers. As the local host, ArtsGreensboro would like to thank a few specific people and organizations who made the festival a big hit for its first North Carolina visit.

Kudos to the city of Greensboro: Mayor Nancy Vaughan and our City Council; City Manager Jim Westmoreland; Assistant City Managers Chris Wilson and David Parrish; and, especially, Reggie Delahanty, of the city’s economic development and business support office, who along with Cecelia Thompson of Action Greensboro first brought the festival opportunity to our attention.

City staff performed far above and beyond the call of duty in helping to get the city ready for and putting on the festival. Special recognition goes to city staffers Josh Sherrick and Donnie Turlington, as well as Trent Walker and the other Greensboro police officers who were, in fact, the festival’s true goodwill ambassadors. Friendly police presence on each corner helped the downtown environment feel safe for families; officers were a great help in answering questions and helping people find their way around.

Major first-in partners included Convention and Visitors Bureau President Henri Fourier, board Chairman Bernie Mann and the wonderful CVB staff, as well as the leadership of Action Greensboro.

Additional help came from Downtown Greensboro Inc., led by its president, Zack Matheny, and support from Guilford County. The early commitments of these organizations and foundations were the tipping point in Greensboro’s successful bid over 31 other cities to attract the festival.

It was, of course, the financial support of our sponsors that made the festival possible and free. Special thanks to the festival’s honorary chairwoman, Linda Carlisle, for her leadership in helping ArtsGreensboro secure more than $1.2 million to co-produce the festival. Thanks, too, to the board and staff of ArtsGreensboro and special efforts of local festival Director Amy Grossmann, in addition to the experience and leadership of our co-producers at the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

The media told our story to potential audiences. Thanks to colleagues at NPR, the festival was featured on the popular “All Things Considered.” Media sponsorships included the News & Record, Fox 8, Our State Magazine, I Heart Media, Capitol Broadcasting, UNC-TV, and others, including WFDD, which also broadcast four hours of the festival to listeners across 32 counties.

But finally, it is the audiences to whom we are most grateful — the thousands who came out not really knowing what to expect but finding it so exciting and diverse that they came back for more on a second and even third day. I hope we looked as good to you as you looked to us and that you are looking forward to 2016 as eagerly as we are.

– Thomas Philion, President & CEO of ArtsGreensboro

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