While only 87 people were able to attend the University of Chicago Folk Festival concert in person on Friday night, and none attended the Thursday night concert in person, between 1,500 and 2,000 people watched the online concerts. Crowdfunding before and during the concerts brought in $12,700 in support; the gate brought in an additional $880.00.

“This year’s festival has presented us with a great deal of difficulty,” wrote Kim Vance, scribe for the U. of C. Folklore Society.

“From the start, we knew we wanted to run as many normal, live, in-person events as possible.

“In late December, our concerns materialized when the Omicron surge began in earnest and the University announced changes to its policies regarding in-person events.

“For about two months before the Fest, it seemed certain that we wouldn’t be able to be in person at all. Then, the week of the Fest, the University abruptly announced that all in-person activities could resume at full capacity. (in assuming everyone was masked and vaccinated).

“Because of this tight deadline, we knew our audience would be small and that we needed to keep the Friday night workshops and concert virtual. However, this allowed us to have a really wonderful in-person concert on Saturday night, which which I think everyone was really excited about.

The Friday night concert featured traditional Cajun and bluegrass music and music from Kyrgyzstan. Saturday’s concert featured old-world fiddle, banjo and guitar, blues, Irish music and traditional music from New Mexico.

“Next year, we really hope the pandemic has stabilized to a point where we can fully return to our normal in-person programming,” Vance added. “We at the Folklore Society miss that dearly, but safety comes first, of course.”