Ken Whiteley, a long-time volunteer and performer at the festival stepped in as artistic director for 1976. The festival saw many new performers as well as familiar faces, including Rev. Perly Brown, Archie Fisher, Steve Goodman, Roscoe Holcomb, Penny Lang, Taj Mahal, Sweet Honey In The Rock, and Jackie Washington.
1976 also marked the beginning of a research and oral history project that would culminate in the publication "For what time I am in this world' : Stories from Mariposa, edited by Bill Usher and Linda Page-Harpa and assisted by Marilyn Koop.
In 1976 Mariposa received a government grant in order to include a special group of First Nation performers from the prairies to perform at the festival. Under the direction of Alanis Obamsawin the Native Peoples’ area of the festival grew to have a large presence at the festival, eventually warranting its own stage and crafts area and including the Mic Mac from Nova Scotia, the Inuit from James Bay and the K’san from British Columbia.
1976 also featured a special contingent of performers and craftspeople from Newfoundland, including Gerald Campbell, Rufus Guinchard, Margaret Bennett Knight, Frank & Margaret MacArthur, Leonard & Anne-Marie MacArthur, Sears & Marie MacArthur, Mac Masters, Anthony & Mary Power, Wilf Wareham and Melvin Woolfrey.