59th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival August 13-16, 2020


Philadelphia Folk Festival Book

Smiling Banjo: A Half Century of Love and Music at the Philadelphia Folk Festival

About the Book

The Philadelphia Folk Festival is the longest continually running outdoor folk festival in North America. Smiling Banjo is a coffee table book with over 700 amazing photos celebrating five decades of music, volunteers, campers, and festival-goers who have come to love what they call “Fest.” Inside are stories from volunteers and musicians alike both personal and legendary: including that time Bob Dylan came to the festival as an attendee!Help support this book so people understand why so many call this festival Home.The Philadelphia Folk Festival has become such an important part of some people’s lives that the first thing they do at the beginning of each year is block off the weekend of “Fest,” as many call it because they can’t imagine a year where they don’t attend. Over 30,000 people come to the festival each year.

Yet, there has never been a book about the history of the festival or ways of showing off the amazing photographs by the talented photographers who have captured the visual history of the festival for over five decades.

Have you ever told people about how you go to the festival every year, but they don’t understand your passion? The book will be a great addition to your coffee table or bookshelf and will show family and friends why this festival is such an important part of your life.

The book also has many of the countless stories that we collected from volunteers and festival-goers. For example, when Mike McGrath (also known from hosting the nationally syndicated NPR show “You Bet Your Garden”) was a member of the security committee and had to deal with a gang of bikers that come to the festival.

The first phalanx of bikers showed up around noon. Mike remembers, “They had a ritual where they would all arrive together and pull up in these straight lines. And at some unseen signal – I was standing right there – they turned their bikes off, all at the same time, and it went from this deafening roar to a deafening silence.”

Have you ever wondered what musician played in what year?

Smiling Banjo includes an index up through the 2017 festival of every act who has played at the festival and what year. The index is organized both by year and by artist.

Think about what a great resource the book will be as part of your library.

Man playing guitar


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Kids listening to music. One is wearing a butterfly costume