How Folklife Festival Is Made (Location for WMS)

We’re hard at work scouting locations for We Make Seattle. One possible location for some filming is the Northwest Folklife Festival, which takes place later this month at the Seattle Center (May 23-26).

I reached out to the organizers to talk about the project and soon discovered they had their own story of helping make Seattle a great place for creative people. I met with Michael Chandler (Festival Production Director) and Kelli Faryar (Programs Manager) at Cherry Street coffee on Denny and 5th yesterday.

I knew it was a big event, but was surprised to consider the true scale of Northwest Folklife Festival: 100s of acts perform each day over the 4 days of the event (full schedule here). Seen below is the scheduling board they use to build and track the entire event – if you complain about your weekly schedule, you should stop now (Photo by Kelli Faryar).

making of folklife

Folklife is one of the few all-ages, free events that anyone in the Seattle area can enjoy. Part of why the event is of interest for our film is it’s one of the few venues that has large crowds of people of all ages and lifestyles participating in the creativity of music, dance, crafts and more. All of the musicians and artists perform for free: no one is paid, which is stunning when you think of how many professional and world class performers fill out the schedule.


Both Chandler and Faryar moved to Seattle years ago. While they came for different reasons, both soon found themselves volunteering with the Folklife Festival.  Eventually they took on full time roles with Northwest Folklife, as part of a small staff that works year round. For the festival they take on ~800  volunteers who play roles from helping with mailings and posters, to collecting donations and helping people find their way at the event. You can sign up to be a volunteer here.


We may need some PA help for shooting at Folklife Festival, so if you’re interested in lending a hand let me know.

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