The SUN story this week about performers for the upcoming 25th Lowell Folk Festival sent me to the vault to find a non-web “log” entry before the blog days about the origin of the Festival. I was cultural affairs director of the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission at the time. After the meeting described below, our Lowell group was treated to a fine lunch at the Marriott in Washington, D.C., courtesy of the Lowell Regatta Festival Committee, one of the key early partners in Park affairs and now known as the Lowell Festival Foundation. Sue Leggat was the liaison to the LRFC.—PM
“September 12, 1986—gray sky, mild
“I was in Washington yesterday. I flew down with Sandy Walter [then-Supt. of Lowell Nat’l Hist. Park] and two of her NPS staffers, George Price and Sue Leggat, to meet with with Joe Wilson, director of the National Council on Traditional Arts, and Vernon ‘Dave’ Dame, chief of interpretation for the Park Service. The purpose of the meeting was to convince Wilson to locate the annual National Folk Festival, which he produces, in Lowell for the next two or three years. We succeeded. Wilson and the NCTA are under contract with the NPS to produce the festival in a national park. Over the years it has been located at Wolftrap Performance Center, Cuyahoga Nat’l Park, and New York City. Joe and Dave were very enthusiastic about having the folk festival in Lowell. It’s a first-rate event.
“Joe Wilson is a fascinating character. He seems to know every folk artist in the country. He travels everywhere with NCTA programs—taking Cajun musicians to Thailand, cowboy poets to Nevada, black blues performers to Mississippi, and more. ….”