The Inclusive and Passionate Community of C-U Folk & Roots Festival

Step into the vibrant and welcoming world of the C-U Folk & Roots Festival. This Midwest music festival goes beyond just showcasing incredible music. It celebrates the power of community, inclusivity, and artistic expression. From workshops and open jams to interactive activities for all ages, this festival invites you to immerse yourself in a truly engaging experience. Let's explore how the C-U Folk & Roots Festival has become a cherished tradition, bringing people together and inspiring passion in our community.

A Welcoming Festival Founded on Community

Learn about the origins and mission of the C-U Folk & Roots Festival, driven by the passion and dedication of the folk arts community.

The C-U Folk & Roots Festival is more than just a music event - it is a celebration of community. Sparked by a gathering of locals who shared a love for folk arts, this festival has been bringing people together for over 15 years. Its mission, still at the core today, is to promote inclusivity and showcase diverse artistic forms that energize downtown Urbana.

This festival embraces community by offering not just musical performances, but also workshops, open jams, storytelling, and activities suitable for all ages. The goal is to create an event that caters to different tastes in music and brings people of all ages and backgrounds together.

Interactive Workshops and the Inclusive Spirit

Discover how the C-U Folk & Roots Festival fosters inclusivity and breaks down boundaries between audience and performers through interactive workshops.

One of the highlights of the C-U Folk & Roots Festival is the series of interactive workshops. Renowned touring artists often lead these workshops and engage with the audience outside of their performances. They share their expertise and create a collaborative environment that allows participants to learn and connect with the artists on a personal level.

For example, last year, saxophonist Eddie Barbash could be spotted with his saxophone, mingling with attendees and spreading music throughout the festival. This emphasis on workshops and community interactions not only fosters inclusivity but also adds an exciting dynamic to the festival.

Preserving Quirky Traditions: The Musical Mayhem Parade

Experience the whimsical tradition of the Musical Mayhem Parade, a memorable event that showcases the festival's commitment to embracing community traditions.

One of the cherished traditions of the C-U Folk & Roots Festival is the incredible Musical Mayhem Parade. This quirky parade has been winding its way through downtown Urbana since the festival's early years. It is a whimsical display of creativity, where musicians and festival-goers come together to celebrate music, art, and community connection.

Even when faced with challenging weather conditions, like the year it rained and the parade was rerouted through Lincoln Square Mall, the spirit and energy of this community tradition remain unwavering. This parade exemplifies the festival's commitment to preserving and nurturing the unique traditions that make it such a special event.

The Power of Community Volunteering and Support

Understand how the dedicated volunteers and suporters contribute to the success of the C-U Folk & Roots Festival.

The C-U Folk & Roots Festival thrives on the generosity and support of its volunteers. Without their dedication and time, the festival simply would not be possible. Volunteers contribute their skills and passionate commitment, playing key roles in organizing and facilitating over 80 events.

Not only do the volunteers provide essential support, but they also create a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere throughout the festival. Whether you are a veteran or a first-time volunteer, the festival offers training and a rewarding experience. Their efforts, in addition to the support from individuals, corporate sponsors, grants, and in-kind contributions, have truly made this a community-driven event.

Community Goodwill: Providing Accessible Programming

Explore how the diverse range of sponsors, donors, and supporters contribute to keeping the C-U Folk & Roots Festival accessible and inclusive.

The C-U Folk & Roots Festival's accessibility is a testament to the incredible network of sponsors, donors, and supporters who allow for quality programming. Contributions from over 100 individuals, corporate sponsorship, grants from the Urbana Arts Council, and in-kind support from the City of Urbana and Urbana Park District have helped create an inclusive and vibrant festival experience.

This strong network of community support enables the festival to keep almost all Saturday programming free, ensuring that everyone can participate and enjoy the rich cultural offerings. Harnessing the power of community goodwill, the C-U Folk & Roots Festival continues to thrive and inspire audiences of all backgrounds.


The C-U Folk & Roots Festival is a celebration of community, diversity, and artistic expression. From its humble beginnings as a gathering of folk arts enthusiasts, it has grown into a vibrant and inclusive event that showcases the power of music to unite people across different ages, backgrounds, and tastes. Through interactive workshops, community traditions like the Musical Mayhem Parade, and the dedication of volunteers and supporters, the festival continues to thrive, creating memorable experiences for all attendees.

With the unwavering support of sponsors, donors, and the local Urbana community, the C-U Folk & Roots Festival remains accessible and accessible to all, ensuring that the magic of folk and roots music can be enjoyed by everyone. This extraordinary festival is a testament to the inherent power of music and the passion of those who come together to make it possible.


Can I participate in workshops and interact with the artists?

Absolutely! The C-U Folk & Roots Festival offers workshops where you can engage with the artists, learn from their expertise, and even collaborate with fellow music enthusiasts. It's a unique opportunity to break down barriers between performers and audience members.

How can I get involved as a volunteer?

Volunteering is a vital part of the C-U Folk & Roots Festival. Whether you're an experienced volunteer or a first-timer, you can contribute your time and skills to help make the festival a success. The festival offers training and support to ensure a rewarding experience for volunteers. It's a fantastic way to be part of our vibrant community.

Are there any ticket costs for the festival?

While some events may require tickets, the C-U Folk & Roots Festival ensures that most of the Saturday programming is free to attend. This inclusivity allows everyone to enjoy the diverse range of performances, workshops, and activities that the festival offers. However, donations are always appreciated and crucial to sustaining the festival year after year.

Is the festival accessible for all ages?

Absolutely! The C-U Folk & Roots Festival prides itself on being family-friendly and inclusive. With activities catered to all ages, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Children and adults alike can immerse themselves in the captivating world of folk and roots music while participating in workshops, jam sessions, and interactive storytelling.

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