Yocona International Folk Festival Is Back Spreading Cultural Experience In Oxford

Yocona International Folk Festival is back after a three-year hiatus. The festival brought performers from across the world to spread cultural experience through dance, music, art and food.

Festival performers told stories of traditions in their home countries to educate the audience. In its comeback year, the festival will still spread the folk culture, but things are going to be a little bit different. They are starting over and changing the format to a concert event.

The concert will include a performance by the Latin band La Fusion as the headliner. The event will be offering international music with Latin and Jazz influences.

Grant director of the Mississippi Arts Commission Diane Williams stated that the festival was able to receive grant money which helped to bring the festival back. 

“The Yocona Festival applied for a small grant and was awarded it,” Williams said.  “They met the criteria; it’s a very simple process. We created the mini grant program for an organization to hire artists from our roster.”

The grant also made it possible for the concert to be free to the public. Co-Founder Mary Sloan is happy to see the festival back and running again. Sloan is confident in the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, and its director Wayne Andrews who will revive the festival. 

“I am very happy that the arts council has taken over. We are thrilled that Wayne, the arts council, and the staff are preserving the brand. It will change, but we are hoping it will be entirely successful and grow”, Sloan said.

Photo courtesy of yoconafestival.org

Andrews states that numerous ideas were brought up when deciding how to best revive the festival after its hiatus.

“We had Conversations based on rebuilding the festival and trying to launch a series of things throughout the year. We wanted to re-introduce people to the concept and build it into a weekend event to help us grow”, Andrews said.

Yocona previously traveled to different venues in Oxford and other areas in Mississippi in August. It was organized by founders Roza Kuldaeva and Sloan every year with the help of various organizations and volunteers. After 2013, Sloan could no longer organize the festival due to a series of difficult family situations.

After the death of her husband, Kuldaeva spent every other year in Oxford. Yocona is now ready for its revival and will be holding its concert this Saturday, July 15 at the Old Armory Pavilion located at Bramlett & University Ave. The concert will have a food truck on site selling refreshments, but the public can bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. Adult beverages will be sold at a cash bar. The concert welcomes families and pets to come enjoy the experience, the only thing you need to bring is your own chair.

Joliasa Miller is a student at the Meek School of Journalism. She can be reached at jjmiller@go.olemiss.edu.

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