Posted by: Andrea Alexander | April 13, 2014

New Jersey Folk Festival: Building Students’ Skills for 40 Years

The New Jersey Folk Festival in 1988.

The New Jersey Folk Festival in 1988.

Making a resume stand out in tough times can be difficult. But for decades, some Rutgers students found an unexpected activity helped get a foot in the door: Running the New Jersey Folk Festival.

“I had good grades, a lot of activities and internships. But in the middle of all of that, the one thing that jumped off my resume was the festival,’’ said Suzanne Confer, who graduated from Rutgers in 1993 in the midst of another economic downturn.

During interviews Confer could talk about how she managed public relations for an event that drew more than 10,000 people each year.

The New Jersey Folk Festival will mark its 40th anniversary celebrating the state’s diverse – and some lesser known – cultures during Rutgers Day.  Over the years the festival has honored 30 different ethnicities, welcomed a Bulgarian Ambassador and showcased cultures that were later recognized as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year the festival will welcome Bulgaa Altangerel, the Mongolian ambassador to the United States, as part of its anniversary celebration.

But an equally important legacy of the folk festival – considered the largest student run event of its kind in the United States – is how it changed the lives of the people behind it.

“I can see a straight line from what I did then to where I am now,’’ said Jaclyn Stewart Wood, a 2001 Rutgers graduate and director of the Jersey Shore Folklife Center at the Tuckerton Seaport. More


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