60th Annual UChicago Folk Festival Returns February 14-15, 2020

The University of Chicago’s Folklore Society hosted the first Folk Festival from February 3-5, 1961 at Mandel Hall, with the emcee none other than the legendary Studs Terkel. There were 20 respected musicians on the line-up – many of whom went on to become influential in the international revival of folk music, Chicago’s burgeoning folk music scene, and the civil rights movement.


It’s impressive that the 1961 poster and program refer to the event as the “1st Annual,” and here we are for the 60th Annual – one can’t help but wonder if those early organizers had any idea of the cultural treasure they had created? Nearly 60 years later, the UChicago Folk Festival is still an important, much-loved event for performers and concert-goers alike.


This year’s 60th Annual University of Chicago Folk Festival is on Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15 at Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th Street. The two-day music festival features a strong line-up of musicians performing early country, bluegrass, Cajun accordion, Afro-Cuban, Metis fiddle, and mariachi music – with Bill and the Belles; Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass; Jimmy Breaux Trio; Orquesta Charangueo; Medicine Line with Jamie Fox and Scotty Leach; and Mariachi Sirenas, Chicago’s own all-women mariachi band.


The concert starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, there’s a full day of free workshops on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and the Saturday concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary from $10-$30 for the Friday and Saturday performances, and group discounts are available. Tickets may be purchased online, in person or over the phone at the Logan Center Box Office and Mandel Hall Box Office, at the Saturday workshops, or by mail. For pricing and full ticketing information, click here.


Festival organizers are still recruiting event volunteers, who do everything from working backstage, to organizing workshops, selling CDs, and working with the performers. Volunteers earn free tickets to the evening concerts – a $25 value for each shift worked. For those interested in volunteering, click here to read the job descriptions and sign up for a Friday or Saturday shift.


Valentine’s Day weekend is the perfect time to plan a fun night out with your sweetie, so mark your calendar now for what is sure to be another memorable UChicago Folk Festival weekend.

2020 Graphic for the 60th Annual UChicago Folk Festival
1961 Poster from the Original UChicago Folk Festival