Rebuild Our Towers - Design/Photos by Ray Noonan

Ray Noonan’s First Report from the
Philadelphia Folk Festival

Featuring the Festivals of the New Millennium
and the Last Ones of the Twentieth Century


 Scenes from Philly Folk Fest The Philadelphia Folk Festival has been a big part of my life for many years. It’s been my end-of-summer ritual since 1972 when I lived in Philadelphia and was attending Temple University. The Festival began about ten years previously, driven by the sixties’ folk music revival and later fueled by the emerging youth culture and trend toward large outdoor concerts. Today, the love for the music has persisted. But this annual event, sponsored by the Philadelphia Folksong Society and held on the Old Pool Farm in Schwenksville, PA, not far from Philadelphia, has become for many of us long-time supporters something that has as much to do with the people as with the music.

I don’t think I’m alone in the following scenario: In 1972, I was still a working undergraduate student who didn’t have a lot of money. Because a number of my friends were volunteers on the festival Security Committee, I volunteered to work the required hours over the weekend, which allowed me to have fun and get to see the concerts for free. Today, I could actually afford to be a “paying customer,” yet the comaraderie that has developed over the years with the people I’ve met and known for these many years has kept me coming back as a volunteer. It’s become a reunion of sorts, seeing people and friends I went to school with, catching up with their lives, watching them, their children, and now even their grandchildren in the process of growing up. At the same time, I get to enjoy the fresh air under a hot, late-August sun, campfires and music under the stars, and maybe a thunderstorm, as occurred in 1996 on Friday night around midnight as the last act on stage was winding down. And with the new millennium came new opportunities to improve these reports, as I joined the festival Press/Promotions Committee (the results of which are gradually making it into these pages).

In that respect, it isn’t even so important who the performers are, although a wide variety of both greater- and lesser-known folk performers are always present representing an almost endless variety of musical styles. So in the spirit of one of the longest-running folk festivals in the country, I invite you to browse and share some of the random sights of the Philadelphia Folk Festival over the past decade or so.

Although the reports from the 1997 and 1998 Festivals were delayed because I was primarily focused on completing (and beginning to recover from) my doctoral dissertation at NYU, I expected subsequent Festival reports to be available soon after each Festival. That didn’t quite work out, as teaching and departmental responsibilities and various crises took precedence, and then the terrorist attack in New York disrupted life for many of us. By 2003, I was completing my latest book, the award-winning Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality (CCIES), which, along with new crises, consumed me through 2007 as we put the book on the website of the Kinsey Institute. I invite you to stop back again soon as I begin to catch up on these reports. This site was once the best and most complete of its kind—and it will be so again.

The 2009 Festival is coming!
See photos from Day Minus One and Day One shortly,
with those of the next two days the day after each.
The missing years will be coming as soon as possible. Check back for them.

The 2009 Festival

The 2008 Festival

The 2007 Festival


The 2006 Festival


The 2005 Festival

The 2004 Festival


The 2003 Festival


The 2002 Festival

The 2001 Festival


The 2000 Festival


The 1999 Festival

The 1998 Festival


The 1997 Festival


The 1996 Festival

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Photography and Web Design by Ray Noonan, ParaGraphic Artists, NYC

Ray Noonan’s First Report from the Philadelphia Folk Festival
is one of many of the online publications of Dr. Ray Noonan.
Copyright © 1996-2009 Raymond J. Noonan, Ph.D., and ParaGraphic Artists

Go to Dr. Ray Noonan's  Return to Dr. Ray Noonan’s Home Page  Go to Dr. Ray Noonan's CCIES at The Kinsey Institute


Links to Other Philadelphia Folk Festival Sites and Articles

Philadelphia Folk Festival and Philadelphia Folksong Society Home Pages

Philadelphia Folk Festival on, with videos, etc.;
and the Philadelphia Folksong Society on

Philadelphia Folk Festival Photos on

Folk Festival Sees Younger Acts as Tonic,” from, by Dan DeLuca,
Philadelphia Inquirer Music Critic (on the 2008 Festival)

Dr. Ray Noonan’s Links to Folk Music on the Web

Philly’s 40th Anniversary,” from The Folk Life Magazine (,
with more 2001 and 2000 photo highlights

Talentsuckers, a long-time campsite community, with photos

Sheik Yerbouti’s Oasis, another campsite community, with photos

Camelot, another campsite community, with photos

Havoc Headquarters, and another, with 1999 photos
(and from 1998 in their Links)

Some individual sites:
Tom Coleman’s 2002 and 1997 festival diaries; Phila. Sound (1998);
Mark Silver (2007, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, and 2000); Robert Corwin (1997)

Philadelphia Folk Festival, 1992,” Ryan Thomson “Captain Fiddle.”

Disappeared or Quiescent Links—Where Are They Now?

Philadelphia Folk Festival Communications Operations (PFFCO),
with aerial shots and more in their photo gallery

Intimate Strangers Digital Diary, one of a number of
festival campsite communties, with photos

Azzole Country Online, a long-time festival
campsite community, with photos

Canada Folk, and another; choose photos on the menu

Other missing individual and campsite community sites:
SpamHogs; Linda Panetta (2000); Ladykat from Oasis (2000/1999);

Well, Folks, It’s Time for a Festival,” John Fischer, 1997

Fortissimo Folk Music at the 1995 Philly Folk Fest

The Folk Festival Folks,” from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 23, 1992

Philadelphia Folk Festival’s 40th Birthday,” Jug Band Rag, September, 2001

Philadelphia Music Alliance, Marian Anderson


Contact Info:

Ray Noonan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Fashion Institute of Technology of the
State University of New York (FIT-SUNY)
P.O. Box 20166
West Village Station
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 217-4240

Feel free to email me with comments and suggested links, and to get updates on this Web site.

First published on the Web on August 29, 1996
This page was last changed on August 12, 2009; Ver. 5a

Copyright © 1996-2009 Raymond J. Noonan, Ph.D., and ParaGraphic Artists

On a technical note: The photographs in the 1996-1998 articles were somewhat of an experiment; they were taken with the Casio QV-10 LCD Digital Camera with color display—a pocket-sized, fixed-focus, 96-shot-capacity, available-light, simple camera. I was testing out the feasibility and quality of this relatively inexpensive way to take photographs in the field and download them to the Web with the least possible delay. Although I’m not used to not being able to focus on my subjects, the quality of these photographs speak for themselves, and are clearly acceptable within the limits of the Web and the quality required for this particular experiment and are tolerable for use in such non-critical applications. Nevertheless, the reader will certainly be able to see the difference between those photos that were taken with the Casio QV-10 as compared to those taken with a standard 35mm SLR camera that have yet to be developed, printed, and scanned. The 1999 photographs, in contrast, were taken with an Olympus D340R Digital Camera. This camera had the advantage of having a built-in flash, allowing better night photos. In addition, it had much higher quality images, the minimum size being 640 x 480 pixels, which I had to reduce by 50% to maintain consistency with the earlier photos. Most required some color correction, as the older ones did as well. In addition, this camera had better image-format options, which facilitated Web use without further conversions.

The 2001-2009 photographs were by far the easiest to deal with, as well as to shoot. I used the digital still capabilities of a Sony DCR-TRV330 Digital-8 video camcorder. In addition to the high-capacity memory stick that hold hundreds of photos, it features auto- and manual focus and zoom, in addition to auto- and manual aperture control. It produces 640 x 480 resolution images, which were resized (with gamma correction) to the standard format of these pages. The night shots were taken with the built-in infrared Sony NightShot system. All in all, I believe the Sony has produced the best images of this series. The main problem is selecting the best of the 9000-plus images taken! The 2000 images, on the other hand, were the most tedious. These images were extracted from 8mm videotape using a Snappy video capture device, or, later, using the analog-to-digital conversion and capture capability of the Sony camcorder.