The 78th National Folk Festival Draws 63,000 Attendees to Downtown Salisbury

SALISBURY – Mayor Jake Day, National Folk Festival Local Manager Caroline O’Hare, and the National Council for the Traditional Arts are excited to announce that attendance estimates have been tallied, and the National Folk Festival in Salisbury, Maryland drew approximately 63,000 attendees in its inaugural year.

“It’s an unequivocal success,” said Mayor Jake Day. “We expected to draw record crowds Downtown over the course of the weekend, and we did. The fact that there were so many attendees in spite of all that rain just makes it even more impressive.”

Crowd estimates were made by analyzing a number of different data sources.  To get preliminary crowd counts, images from cameras mounted at all stages and tents were used, as was drone footage.

For the first time at a large event in Salisbury, the City’s Information Services Department used cell phone data to track unique ID’s, making for a more accurate headcount than was previously possible.

“For the festival, we deployed an enterprise mesh Wi-Fi system across the entire footprint,” said Information Services Director Bill Garrett.  “We had antennas at every stage, the Marketplace, the Family Area, and select other locations.  The goal was to provide festivalgoers with a reliable, high-speed Internet service for use during the event.  We were excited to see an increase in bandwidth usage of 1,750% compared to the prior 3 weekends, with the majority of traffic being to social media as people livestreamed and posted.

“This system has an analytical component allowing us to track all users within range of the antennas.  Even if the user doesn’t use our Wi-Fi, as long as they are within range the system sends a constant stream of offers to use our system.  The mobile device, as long as Wi-Fi is enabled, reports that it received this offer.  That lets us know the total number of devices in range at any time that were seen by the system.

“We pulled a total of devices connected for a minimum of 5 uninterrupted minutes in order to account for any traffic or passersby that were not attending the festival.  Across the entire weekend, we detected just under 100,000 devices across the footprint that met these criteria.  Using a standard deviation formula for the sample, we were able to account for the outlaying fringes; those without mobile devices such as small children, or those with multiple Wi-Fi enabled devices on them such as multiple phones, smart watches, and the like.  We then used the historical information for number of devices seen in this footprint over the prior 3 weeks since we deployed the hardware, in order to eliminate all devices that belong to businesses, residences, the medical centers within range, and people who work in the area each weekend from our total.  While the total attendance number also accounts for volunteers and employees, and is in no way perfect, it provides us a very good estimation of the total attendance over the 3-day festival.”

“I have been involved in the launch of many festivals and can attest that, weather notwithstanding, the 78th National Folk Festival was a glorious event,” stated NCTA Executive Director Julia Olin. “The overwhelming enthusiasm of audiences has created such a buzz that I expect attendance will more than double in 2019.”

“In the first year,” Olin also noted, “it is not unusual to experience quite a few organizational and logistical ‘bumps.’ This was the smoothest-running first-year festival that I have ever experienced. My hat is off to Salisbury!”

Local Folk Festival Director, Caroline O’Hare said, “It was just amazing to see our community come together, welcome new visitors, and celebrate – rain or shine. We’re a strong City with a big heart, and we will continue to shine into years 2, 3, and beyond.”

“We’re on cloud 9,” said Mayor Day. “Maybe a little tired, still – but very, very pleased with the success of the event. I can’t wait until next year.”


14 thoughts on “The 78th National Folk Festival Draws 63,000 Attendees to Downtown Salisbury

  1. GREAT JOB! It was well attended the days my wife and I were in attendance!!!! Looking forward to next years event! Let the criers cry, send them to Walmart for pacifiers….HA HA HA


    1. He’s too busy running around Trader Lees parking lot looking like an idiot taking pictures of 20 people and bragging about how busy they are.


  2. The only area Jake Day cares about is downtown. He has done NOTHING to stop the public housing project being build over by Phillip Morris Drive.


  3. 8:29 how STUPID are you?? Those buildings have been in the works long before Day arrived. Go to trader Lee’s . Get a T-shirt. Get a beer. And STAND around with the other 20 senior citizens biker’s.


    1. 7:31 you forgot you have to swat flies, don’t get a mixed drink with any fruit….flies all over bar and garnishes!!!! Garage door up a really classy place….ha ha ha!


  4. So if I went Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and walked by multiple stages; how many times did my private data “cell phone I’d” get counted? Don’t tell me on once!
    I was there all 3 days, no way they had 60k. Good festival, but not 60,000 people.


  5. Please check your facts. I live over there. This project started in 2016 – AFTER Day became mayor. The residents have been fighting this w/ the City Council and the Zoning Board for two years. Day did NOTHING to help us stop this. In fact, he dismissed our concerns about overcrowding at Bennett Elementary school and said that no extra police patrols would be necessary.

    The City Council voted town a $109,000 tax break requested by Penrose Development Corp – the outfit that is building this “project” after listening to the residents in the area. Day was MIA on that one.

    I’m sure if 75 low income subsidized apartments were being built next to your house you would want the mayor helping you to stop it. Maybe you LIKE burglaries, shootings, and drug dealing in your neighborhood. I don’t.

    I’ll give credit where credit is due. He pulled off the folk festival. Hats of to him for that.

    HOWEVER, Day is the mayor of the ENTIRE city — not just downtown. He needs to remember that and start caring about the rest of Salisbury.


  6. Sorry, I meant Beaver Run Elementary School. Still angry about this “affordable housing” that is going to turn all the area between Tighlman Road and Phillip Morris Drive into another Church Street within 2 years (at most) after it is built.


  7. At least Jake has the ability to motivate city workers to get a job done. They did a great job of getting roads open after the festival was over and cleaning up the old murder mall parking lot. If you think Culver can motivate or has the respect of his workers all u need to do is watch what goes on over on Owens Branch Rd. in the morning. Those so called workers seldom leave the shop until they have had a one hour break to start the day.


  8. When Culver is soon unemployed he will have time to volunteer for city and county fairs. He should enter the jackass competition. He could also volunteer to work at the world series at the Parker Complex. AND THIS TIME NO SMOKE BREAKS CULVER.


Comments are closed.