Family Area

Family Area Activities and Stage

Sponsored by Avery Hall Insurance with support from Maryland Heritage Areas Authority

This special interactive area features hands-on crafts, quiet games and active games, and other creative learning activities for young audiences and their families. The Family Stage, located within the Family Area, features a variety of performances, including storytelling, puppetry, and interactive music and dance.

Featured Performances

A variety of family performances, including puppetry, storytelling, and interactive music and dance workshops—all designed to be enjoyed by both the young and the young-at-heart.

Yamini Kalluri & the Carnatic Ensemble

Combining grace, virtuosity, beauty, and vigorous movements, Yamini Kalluri & the Carnatic Ensemble present an ancient dance-drama from South India that breathes life into epic stories about the exploits of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Penn Lions

From the award-winning Penn Lions comes one of Chi- na’s most timeless traditions—Chinese lion dance. Known for spreading joy and prosperity during the Lunar New Year, it features thunderous drumming, energetic movements, and colorful lions.

Andes Manta

The four Lopez brothers in Andes Manta have performed the music, both haunting and joyous, of their ancestral home in the Ecuadoran Andes for schoolchildren nationwide, creating hands-on experiences with panpipes, flutes, percussion, and more.

Professor Horn’s Punch & Judy Show

Professor Horn’s Punch & Judy Show, a Baltimore puppetry institution, provides nonstop laughs at the expense of the wisecracking trickster Punch and his long-suffering wife Judy in a series of hilarious predicaments that Punch always manages to escape.

Jones Benally Family Dancers

World champion hoop dancer Jones Benally and three generations of his family come together in the Jones Benally Family Dancers. Through chanting and the evocative movements of the hoop dance, which are inspired by the natural world, they share the beauty of Navajo culture.

Drums No Guns

Drums No Guns unlocks the rhythmic possibilities of buckets and other recycled materials, offering interactive musical performances meant to build self-confidence and community through creative self-expression.


The Family Activities Area features interactive activities, hands-on crafts, games—both active and quiet—and other creative learning opportunities.

Interactive Music and Dance

    • Sing spirituals and other songs that were used to communicate hidden messages about the journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
    • Make and play your own panpipes from the Andes Mountains of Ecuador.
    • Join a bucket drumming “junkyard jam.”

Make and Take Activites

  • Paint your own miniature decoy on hand-cut plywood—a fun, colorful introduction to a deep Delmarva tradition.
  • Make your own kazoo in a few simple steps out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and straws.
  • Decorate a homemade flag with streamers using the colors of the National Folk Festival logo.
  • Let everyone know who you are by wearing a name tag inscribed with a turkey quill.
  • Make a piece of coiled pottery out of clay; while it dries, learn about traditional Pocomoke tools and artifacts from local historians. (Saturday only)
  • Percussion instruments made out of gourds were brought to America by enslaved Africans. Make your own shaker using plastic bottles, beans, and lentils, and learn about this important musical legacy.

All-Hands Community Art Project

Help create a collaborative community art work and learn about protecting the environment! Plastic Fantastic, a 13-foot geodesic dome, will be constructed during the festival weekend out of over 4,000 recycled plastic bottles.

Traditional Games

Discover what kids did for fun before videogames! Learn how to play marbles, and test your “shooting” abilities; the shooter with the most marbles at the end wins. Watch a demonstration of clay marbles and see how the game was played in the 19th century. Challenge a friend to a game of darts, played like it was by Pocomoke Indians on the Eastern Shore at the time of Captain John Smith’s arrival— using darts made out of corncobs and wild turkey feathers. (Darts are Saturday only.)

Animal Ambassadors

Meet the animal ambassadors from the Salisbury Zoo when they to visit (12:30 – 4:30 p.m. daily).

All About Bees

Learn all about bees and other pollinators. See the bees in action in a self-contained hive. Make butterflies with colorful wings out of coffee filters, a paper straw, and pipe cleaners. Color a cutout of a butterfly, hummingbird, bat, or bee, and wear it as a pollinator crown. Did you know that butterflies can taste with their feet? Which flowers do butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds like best? Learn their secrets, and then match the pollinators with their favorite flowers using cutouts on a stand-up board. Visit the pollinator garden with flowers for all the pollinators, plus the plants caterpillars need to eat. Find out how to attract pollinators to your own back yard. And, for something a little different, stop by the worm bin to discover how worms keep soil healthy for these plants.

Story Time and LEGO table

Get silly with librarians from the Wicomico Public Library at a fun, interactive story time when they read “Old Lady Swallows a Fly” and “Mean Soup.” (Story time will take place at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily.) Join your friends and neighbors at the community LEGO table to build things from around the Chesapeake Bay.

The Underground Railroad

Earn your official National Park Service Junior Ranger badge by completing an activity booklet about the Underground Railroad (for all ages). Get “sworn in” at special pledge ceremonies on the Family Stage.

Learn about African American spirituals and other songs that were associated with the Underground Railroad from Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots. Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, a former National Park Service park ranger, is an acclaimed accordionist and researcher who performs his own style of Afro-Louisiana music that combines zydeco, blues, gospel, and Caribbean traditions. Among his many areas of expertise is the deep wellspring of traditional songs that contained hidden meanings for enslaved Africans who dreamed of reaching freedom on the Underground Railroad. Follow along with Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots as they teach festivalgoers many of these songs.

Try hands-on activities focused on Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad with historian Tony Cohen. A fourth-generation descendant of a runaway slave, Cohen is a noted explorer of the American slavery experience who retraced the Underground Railroad by foot in an epic, two-month-long journey, and had himself shipped inside a wooden crate like Virginia fugitive Henry “Box” Brown. Try your hand at the chores that Harriet and other children had to complete on a 19th-century Eastern Shore plantation. Gain a tactile understanding of the skills and knowledge she acquired during slavery that helped her succeed in her heroic endeavors.

Thanks to our Family Area Partners:

Diedra Krieger; Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park and State Park; New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park; National Park Service; HISTORIO; Pocomoke Indian Nation, Inc.; Salisbury Zoo; University of Maryland Extension; Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University; Wicomico Public Libraries.

The National Folk Festival | Salisbury, MD is produced by

In Partnership with