Join a weekend of entertainment, activities and exhibits.
Along the banks of the historic Suwannee River in White Springs, Fla., folk artists have gathered annually to celebrate Florida’s land, people and diverse cultural heritage. Since its humble beginning in 1953, the Florida Folk Festival has not only grown to become Florida’s most prestigious affair, but it also has been named “Florida’s Best Cultural Event.” The festival has been recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as a “Top 20 Event” in the Southeast United States.
We’re currently working to schedule all our featured performers for the 2022 festival. We’ll add them to the website once confirmed. Check back frequently to discover who will be joining us May 27-29, 2022.
Festival favorite Billy Dean, a native of Quincy, Fla., is known by his peers as the “James Taylor of country music.” By the age of 10, he was playing in his dad’s country band. He was raised appreciating the value of music and has had many musical influences.
After attending college on a basketball scholarship, Billy moved to Nashville in 1983 and by 1990 had recorded his first Top 5 Hit "Only Here for A Little While." Since then, Billy has transcended genres with his unique repertoire earning numerous awards, including the Academy of Country Music's Song of the Year for "Somewhere in My Broken Heart"; ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year; BMI Pop Awards; BMI Song Awards; BMI Million Air Plays Award; Country Music Television Rising Star Award; NSAI Song of the Year; and a Grammy for a "Country Tribute: Amazing Grace." In 2017, Billy was inducted into the Florida Artist Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed by the state.
Billy's appeal reaches beyond the music world. He has appeared on numerous television shows as well as made-for TV movies, including Blue Valley Songbird, A Face to Kill For, Lois & Clark, One Life to Live, Diagnosis Murder, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, The Montel Show and many others. He is currently on tour across the United States.
Along with 13 albums and eleven Top 10 singles spanning over 18 years, Billy founded the publishing company BDMG (Billy Dean Music Group).
His latest album, "Billy Dean Live," was released in 2017. It features personal anecdotes and an array of his most beloved songs. Billy's career has been recognized with a proclamation from the State of Tennessee House of Representatives.
Ben Prestage has music in his blood. His great-grandmother was a professional musician who toured the American vaudeville circuit opening shows for Al Jolson. His grandmother was a boogie-woogie pianist.
For years, Folk Festival fans have flocked to the stages where Ben Prestage appears. Growing up in a swampy area of rural central Florida, Ben has created his own signature sound, Deep South swamp music, by melding juke joint blues, Delta blues and blazing Piedmont blues, with award-winning finger-style guitar and soaring steel-guitar work. After a stint as a busker on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Ben emerged as one the nation’s top one-man-bands and earned acclaimed accolades, including the Lyon/Pitchford Award for “Best Diddley Bow Player” and “Most Unique Performer” at the Songwriters’ Showcase of America. He also finished fourth, third and second place at the International Blues Challenge. Ben is one of the only artists to be nominated for both a Blues Music Award and an Independent Music Award. These accomplishments and uniquely powerful live performances have earned Ben invitations to perform at prominent blues, jazz, and folk festivals across North America, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
The Firewater Tent Revival
Expect the unexpected! Described as a “whiskey snortin’, happy-go-lucky, good-time band,” the Firewater Tent Revival is a psychedelic bluegrass band from Jacksonville, Florida, that will make you want to dance.
Formed in 2010 and originally called The Hopeless, Dave Smith and Jon Deering formed the band simply to be able to keep playing music together. Soon after, new members joined the band and it had several featured guest artists.
The group recorded their first EP, "Sinkin Boat," in February 2015. Two months later, they played their way into the hearts of the Jacksonville public, winning third place in the popular crowd-funding festival One Spark as voted for by the people.
These Florida-natives’ latest EP, “Playin’ The Fields,” has over 14,000 copies in circulation and has become a regular spin on Orlando’s 104.1 Real Radio “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” Readers voted them 2018’s “Best Original Band” in Folio Weekly Magazine, Jacksonville’s most widely printed arts and entertainment publication. The publication proclaimed, “The Firewater Tent Revival Burns it up with primo bluegrass and a hot party vibe” and describes them as being “on a subliminal mission to return the music to its original function as pure entertainment.”
"When it isn't fun to do any more it's over" is the perspective the band maintains.
Papaloko & Loray Mistik
Loray Mistik - or "Mystic Thunder" - is an exciting group that emanates from the hills and villages of the mysterious, ancient land of Haiti. Their music brings forward the truth of their traditions with rhythms played out on the drums like the sound of the mystic thunder of the gods.
Vodou speaks to the heart of Haitian people, putting forth a message of social conscience and spiritual strength. It also typifies the music of the Lwa (the Spirits or Orishas) of Africa, with many songs bringing prayers to the 101 Vodou Nations that look over humankind and protect us all. In slavery days, Haiti became a melting pot of African tribes. With the new arrivals, many tribal religions blended with a new rhythm created by Don Petwo, a Vodou priest who combined the attributes of the spirit of Metal, Iron and Justice, Ogun, with Congo rhythms creating Petwo music. Rhythms of the already present Arawak and Taino Indians blended with immigrant African rhythms, and the sound of Rara was born. As the popular folk music rooted in Vodou, Rara brought news to the people of the villages and towns and is also played in weddings, funerals and all social events.
The leader of Loray Mistik, Jude Thegenus, better known as Papaloko, is an artist whose work is born through trance, the act of falling into a deep meditative state and then being possessed by a spirit whose purpose is to paint strokes of life onto canvas. At age six, Jude began to study sculpture and ceramics at the Art Institute of Saint Jean Bosco and later completed his education at Lycee Antenor Firmin. Papaloko’s work can be found internationally in galleries, private homes, cafés, restaurants and nightclubs. He is currently putting the final touches on an 18-year project at Mango’s Tropical Café on Ocean Drive in South Beach where he was commissioned to design a tropical atmosphere.
Loray Mistik performs true Vodou music. Traditional instruments like the kleroon, graj, fe iron, conch shell, cha cha, jon, hand bass and the drums unify with the eclectic sounds of the guitar, bass and saxophone to create what they call “Vodou pop.” Jude believes that many come to their performances for the spiritual aspect of the music. When Loray Mistik performs, it is a much for themselves as is it for the audience. They feel the music first; they never just put on a show.
Special Guest Artist
Winter Haven native Jim Stafford is a comedian, singer, songwriter and entertainer extraordinaire. He wrote and recorded his first chart-making song, “The Swamp Witch,” produced by his boyhood friend Kent LaVoie - aka Lobo - in 1974. He followed with a gold single, “Spiders and Snakes,” which stayed on the American pop charts for 26 weeks. The hits just kept coming and included “My Girl Bill,” “Wildwood Weed” and the wonderfully satirical “Cow Patti,” written for the Clint Eastwood movie "Any Which Way You Can," in which Jim appeared.
For over 20 years the Jim Stafford show has been named a favorite by audiences and critics alike. He is self-taught on guitar, fiddle, piano, banjo, organ and harmonica.
Jim launched his television career with "The Jim Stafford Show" on ABC in 1975, and he co-hosted the popular prime-time show "Those Amazing Animals" with Burgess Meredith and Pricilla Presley. In 1987 and 1988, Jim was a regular performer and head writer/producer for the Emmy nominated "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour."
During his show, Jim combines comedy with masterful performances on the classical guitar as well as with heart-warming stories of the human spirit. Critically acclaimed as the “Victor Borge of the Guitar,” Jim creates hilarious antics from everyday life taking laughter to a new art form. He’ll share his secrets for creating stage presence.