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The original Northern Appalachian Folk Festival was founded in 2013 by Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor and historian, Jim Dougherty.


The son of a coal miner, NAFF began as an expression of his passion and interest in the history and contributions of this wholly unique American region. His goal was to celebrate all of the qualities of the areas that make up Northern Appalachia.

NAFF incorporated as a charitable organization in Pennsylvania in 2018 and achieved federal 501(c)3 status in 2023.


Jim Dougherty, PhD, Founder/Director

Our Roots


Each year on the second weekend of September, the main street of small town Western Pennsylvania springs to life in celebration of local art, history, and culture.


Vendors bursting with local flavors, artisan crafts, and more line the streets while many of the quaint Downtown's storefronts play host to workshops that educate and enrich, with subjects ranging from the area's involvement in the Underground Railroad to how to build a rainwater capture system to identifying and foraging wild mushrooms.

And then, of course, there's the music.

Country, bluegrass, African drums, rock n' roll, Americana, jazz, and blues - the acts that perform at NAFF represent the breadth of the diversity and talent of the Northern Appalachian region.

Other highlights of the weekend include a Children's Alley, the Storytellers and Liars contest, a charitable 5k marathon, and the Northern Appalachian Folk Festival

Walk of Fame Ceremony.

In 2017, NAFF, Inc. laid the first bricks in its Walk of Fame, which recognizes the contributions made by Northern Appalachians in the areas of education, environmentalism, human rights, the arts, sports, and beyond. 

Such figures as August Wilson, Rachel Carson, Andy Warhol, Jim Nance, and Mother Jones have been honored alongside local and lesser-known heroes like Hiram Holliday, Chief Cornplanter, and the Granny Women of Appalachia. 


See a complete list of inductees here

The Festival

In March 2023 NAFF, Inc. cut the ribbon on its first brick-and-mortar location in Downtown Indiana, PA.


With a home base established, NAFF, Inc. launched two exciting new programs: the Jim Rogers and Ken Holliday Folk School of the Arts and Humanities and the

Chris Catalfamo Lecture Series on Ideas and Issues.


The Folk School and the Lecture Series aim to provide the community with year-round opportunities to engage with the arts, crafts, history, and issues facing their locality.

Interested in teaching at NAFF? Click the button below to fill out our Instructor Application.


The Folk School

Judy Holiday - 2019 NAFF - 2061.jpg

NAFF, Inc. Board of Directors

Director/President - Jim Dougherty
Vice President / Treasurer
- Judy Holliday
Secretary - Tressa Yeamans

Committee Members
Cindy Rogers
Monica DeLoreto 
Ashley Wolfe

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