Folklife in the South

Thank you for joining us for the 2023 Folklife in the South gathering!

The 2023 Folklife in the South gathering (FITS, for short), was held June 8-10, 2023, at Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville, Alabama. FITS is a regional gathering that brings together community leaders, folklorists, traditional artists, educators, documentarians, activists, students, and other cultural workers from across the Southeast to learn from one another, celebrate traditional arts, discuss issues relevant to our region, and forge partnerships across disciplines, states, generations, and communities.

Our theme for 2023, “Folklife in a Textured World,” evoked the role of folklore and traditional arts in the complexity of contemporary life in the South. 

The FITS gathering is not a typical, formal, academic conference, but a collaborative convening that welcomes anyone interested in the diverse folklife of the American South. We encourage participants to wear comfortable clothes, take breaks when needed, and come prepared to meet with other attendees for workshops and presentations as a group. FITS has convened on a regular basis since the 1980s. This year, South Arts partnered with the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Alabama Folklife Association, and the American Folklore Society to hold the first FITS gathering since 2017.

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Detailed Conference Description

What are Folk and Traditional Arts?

The South is home to an abundance of traditional art forms, whether they are indigenous to the region or reflect the traditions of immigrant communities. Traditional arts are shared aesthetics, practices, and values of families, geographic communities, occupational groups, ethnic heritage groups, etc. Traditional arts are learned orally, or by observation and imitation, often through a mentor artist instructing an apprentice. These traditions are usually maintained without formal instruction or academic training. Some traditional arts have a deep-rooted history with little change, while others are constantly evolving and adapting to their changing environment.

Some examples of traditional art forms practiced in the South include Afro-Cuban batá drum, Catawba pottery, Zydeco music, Indian Bharatha Natyam dance, Anglo American quilting, Peruvian retablos, African American foodways traditions, Chinese Zheng, Cherokee storytelling, Traditional Vietnamese Medicine, and Minorcan netmaking, among others.

Key Dates

  • Online Registration Opens: January 17, 2023 | Click here to register
  • Session Proposal Submissions Open: January 17, 2023 | Click here to submit a session proposal
  • Session Proposal Submissions Close: February 15, 2023
  • Agenda Announcement: Early April 2023
  • Online Registration Closes: May 31, 2023
  • In-Person Gathering: 
    • Thursday, June 8, 2023, 1:00pm – 8:00pm CT
    • Friday, June 9, 2023, 8:00am – 10:00pm CT
    • Saturday, June 10, 2023, 8:00am – 12:00pm CT
  • Self-Guided Field Trips: June 10, 2023 (after 12:00pm CT)

Registration Rates

  • Three-Day Registration, Private Room (June 8-10): $520
    • Includes five meals and two nights’ stay in a private room at Lake Guntersville State Park.
  • Three-Day Registration, Double Room (June 8-10): $360
    • Includes five meals and two nights’ stay in a double occupancy room at Lake Guntersville State Park. You may specify your preferred roommate. 
  • Three-Day Registration, No Lodging (June 8-10): $200
    • For participants who do not need lodging. Includes five meals and participation in all three days of activities, Thursday, June 8, through Saturday, June 10. 
  • Half-Day Registration (Thursday, June 8): $50
    • Includes one meal and participation in the half day of activities on Thursday, June 8, 2023.
  • One-Day Registration (Friday, June 9): $100
    • Includes three meals and participation in the full day of activities on Friday, June 9, 2023.
  • Half-Day Registration (Saturday, June 10): $50
    • Includes one meal and participation in the half day of activities on Saturday, June 10, 2023.

The FITS agenda will include recommendations for field trips, such as visits to nearby Alabama communities and artists. While not part of the official gathering agenda, field trips will be self-guided and open to all.

Register for Folklife in the South

Workshop or Presentation Proposal Submissions


Folklife in the South accepted proposals for sessions relevant to the theme “Folklife in a Textured World.” Proposals were due February 15, 2023. The submission form is now closed.

If you submitted a session proposal, South Arts will notify you about the status of your session by February 24, 2023.

The complete FITS 2023 Agenda will be released April 1, 2023. Sign up for email updates so you don't miss it!


For questions about Folklife in the South, please contact the South Arts Traditional Arts team: 

Teresa Hollingsworth, Director, Traditional Arts:
Ellie Dassler, Assistant Director, Traditional Arts: