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Community Builder: Folkways

About Folkways

In 2015, Joe Burgum and Simone Wai saw potential in the vibrant culture of Fargo. Their simple yet powerful vision for Folkways was to stimulate the cultural landscape of Fargo by working with artists, musicians, and small business owners.

Driven by understanding and solving community challenges, such as social isolation, Folkways crafts events focused on immersive experiences and community vending opportunities. Folkways is not just a community-building venture, it’s a vibrant tapestry of culture, connection, and creativity working in the community to ignite a cultural flourish and drive a sense of belonging.

What are they hosting?

Folkways is passionate about the power of culture and believes it is integral to communal belonging and economic vitality. Their initiatives, including the Red River Market, Night Bazaar, and Christkindlmarkt support this.

“One of our most influential programs is CampusFM, a student retention initiative,” Co-Founder Simone Wai said. “CampusFM instills passion in students for the FM+ area, provides tools and resources for their career growth, and equips them with the necessary skills to excel in their fields through programs like the Intern Experience and the Creatorship.”

Why is this important?

More than just events, Folkways is a movement to decrease social isolation. They use experiences to address challenges like workforce retention, economic vitality, and communal belonging.

They work closely with artists, musicians, and small business owners—or as the Folkways team calls them, the keepers of a community’s culture. Their work helps push the community forward in driving economic growth, enhancing the quality of life by offering unique cultural experiences, and stimulating local businesses.

What has happened? The Numbers!

Folkways events have attracted over 600,000 attendees and contributed $9.8 million to the local economy, 87 new businesses launched through events and programming, $35,000 in SNAP food assistance dollars have been used on fresh, locally made food, 8 public murals have been installed by local artists, and more! According to surveys, 84% of event visitors saw someone they knew at a Folkways event whom they didn’t go with, showcasing that Folkways events connect the community.


Night Bazaar

Thursdays July 20 & September
21, 6-10 p.m.
Broadway Square 201 Broadway N

Beginning in 2017, the Night Bazaar events come from a lively series of evening events that combine music, art, and food in a unique cultural blend. They offer a wide variety of performances and handson activities for all generations and highlight the variety of talents in the community. Happening about once a month during the summertime, these provide memorable summer and fall evenings filled with creativity and connection in the heart of downtown Fargo. This year, each of the three events will have a theme; Circus (June), Renaissance (July), and Magic (September).

Red River Market

Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Broadway Square 201 Broadway N

July 8 is the opening day of the Red River Market, the region’s largest farmers’ market. Having started in 2015, this weekly farmers’ market brings local produce, crafts, and foods right to the heart of our community to be enjoyed. By doing so, it strives to support local farms and new and emerging food businesses, to increase access to fresh, locally grown produce, to be a good steward of the planet, and to create a sense of place where all are welcome. After the grand opening, the market continues every Saturday until October 28.


November 17-19 and 24-26
throughout the days
Civic Center, 207 4th St N

This event is an annual European-inspired holiday market hosted since 2016. The Civic Center transforms into a festive gathering place complete with food, gifts, and entertainment, bringing an indoor/outdoor winter experience to Fargo while promoting local artisans and businesses during the holiday season. This year, the Christkindlmarkt will expand to two weekends before and after Thanksgiving!

Read a full, in-depth feature on Campus FM and what this Folkways initiative is doing for the community in the June Lifestyle & Going Out issue of Trendsetters Magazine.

Written by Brady Drake

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