Local Lives & Cultural Ties: The Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Where can you meet a Mompox drum maker; learn how to pack a mule for transporting goods over the Andes; dance to the tunes of jump blues, soul and funk; and consider a job change as a Peace Corp volunteer? The Smithsonian Folklife Festival may be your answer! The Festival is a chance to meet with people from across the United States and around the world, carriers of cultural traditions, who are all too willing to share their not-too-familiar stories.
This year’s Festival highlights programs on Columbia, the Peace Corps and Rhythm and Blues. The Colombian program details six ecosystems, including the Andes Mountains to the Amazon Rainforest, the hilly coffee region of Caldas, and the urban center of Bogot√°. Colombian artists will sing, dance, prepare food, tell stories, celebrate the harvest, and demonstrate religious ceremonies, traditional medicine practices, and agricultural sustainability.
The Peace Corps program at the Folklife Festival will bring together Peace Corps volunteers with many of the people with whom they have served from countries around the world. Some highlights will include:
- Demonstrations by craft cooperatives
- Performances by musical, dance, and theatrical groups
- Hands-on educational activities to increase public understanding and appreciation of the cultures and countries where Peace Corps volunteers have lived
The Rhythm and Blues: Tell It Like It Is program will present performances and workshops with some of the artists, songwriters, radio personalities, and others who have shaped the musical heritage of rhythm and blues in the United States. This program is produced in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Don a summer hat and pack up the kids. Plan to swing your honey to the tunes of Chuck Brown, learn how to roll a cheese called queso de capa, and enjoy some authentic Colombian storytelling to pass on to your grandchildren.
- The Festival’s opening ceremony will take place June 30th at 11:00 a.m., and will remain open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 30-July 4 and July 7-11. Special evening events include concerts and dance parties beginning at 6:00 p.m. During the Festival, you may call (202) 633-7484 to hear a recorded description of daily events. Admission is free.
- National Mall, between 7th and 14th Streets in Washington, D.C. Limited parking; use Metro: Smithsonian and Federal Triangle on the Blue Line, and L’Enfant Plaza and Archives on the Green and Yellow Lines. Gallery Place and Metro Center on the Red Line are also just a short distance away.
- This event is held during the warmest time of year in Washington, D.C. Plan ahead, dress appropriately, and drink lots of water. Give yourself time to cool off in the Smithsonian Museums that skirt the Mall.
- The best place to eat may be the festival itself. Mealtime is an important part of folk traditions, and festival visitors can sample a variety of delicious foods from other cultures. Almost every tent and kiosk will have food on sale, ranging from snacks to fully cooked meals.