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Recordings of the 1954 Florida Folk Festival

Recordings of the 1954 Florida Folk Festival

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(1:05:56; 60MB; S 1576; reel T76-1)

Today we feature the very first recording of the long-running Florida Folk Festival. Recorded on May 6, 1954 by Foster Barnes at the Stephen Foster Center in White Springes, Florida.

Transcript of the Introduction

Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the State Library and Archives of Florida.

Today we feature the very first recording of the long-running Florida Folk Festival. Recorded on reel to reel tape on Thursday, May 6, 1954, it contains performances by local school children, representatives of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, folk singers, and opening remarks by festival director and renowned folk culture magnate, Sarah Gertrude Knott.

The Florida Folk Festival, which was first presented in 1953 as a four-day concert located at the Stephen Foster Memorial in White Springs, has since grown into one of the nation's oldest annual folk festivals, now covering several stages and featuring hundreds of performers and artists.

This earliest recording captures the simple origins of the folk festival and reveals the festival organizers 1950s viewpoint of folklife and what was then considered important for preservation for future generations.

Fortunately, these performances were preserved, thanks in large part to one man, memorial curator Foster Barnes. After the success of the first festival, Barnes decided to record the event. Each year he became a regular sight at the Festival, as he sat stage side with his recorder, smoking his pipe and taking notes. Following his retirement in 1965, other memorial staff maintained the practice. In 1979, when the Florida Folklife Program assumed control of the festival, they too recorded the performances, followed in 2003 by the Florida Park Service

Today, nearly 3500 of these festival recordings reside at the State Archives of Florida as part of the Florida Folklife Collection where they can still be heard and enjoyed.

Now let's go way down upon the S'wannee River and enjoy the sounds of 1954...