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This summer, the Smithsonian will present “Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine” at the 2008 Folklife Festival. The program will share the stories of more than 100 Texans who have dedicated their lives to celebrating, promoting and preserving the rich culture of the Lone Star State.
The Festival will be held Wednesday, June 25 through Sunday, June 29 and Wednesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 6 outdoors on the National Mall between Seventh and 14th streets. Admission is free. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with such special evening events as concerts and dance parties beginning at 6 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the National Park Service.
“I think this program will challenge many stereotypes about Texas and surprise many of our visitors,” said Pat Jasper, founding director of Texas Folklife Resources and guest curator of the Texas program. “It will be an opportunity to eat, drink and waltz your way across the Lone Star State and listen to presentations by some of the its finest traditional musicians, cooks and winemakers. So y’all come and be sure to bring your dancing shoes!”
The vast geography and diverse ethnic populations of Texas have, for generations, led to the growth of several new types of music. The Texas program will feature musicians from the North, West, East, Hill Country, Southeast and Lower Rio Grande Valley regions of the state. The lively forms of tejano, polka, Western swing, gospel, conjunto, cowboy, Cajun, blues, mariachi and Creole music will be heard at the Festival. With the exception of gospel, all of these types of music are performed nightly in community dance halls and other gathering places across the state. Visitors will be able to kick up their heels on the dance floor located in one of the program’s two music stages or take a dance lesson at the workshop stage.
Some of the bands that will be featured at the Festival include Little Joe y la Familia, Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys, Tutu Jones, the Quebe Sisters Band, Les Amis Creole, James Hand, The Original Soul Invaders, The Gillette Brothers, Texas Johnny Brown, Mark Halata and Texavia, Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces, Fiddlin’ Frenchie Burke, Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines, Conjunto Los Angeles del Sur, Los Texmaniacs, and the Jones Family Singers.
Additional musicians and groups include Marcia Ball; Guy Clarke; Augie Meyers, a Grammy Award winner who has played with Bob Dylan and John Hammond; Mariachi Los Arrieros, a 15-member ensemble from El Paso; Joe Ely, a legendary singer–songwriter with roots in the Lubbock scene; and C.J. Chenier, a Houston native and the “crown prince” of zydeco. All will perform during one of the program’s evening concerts or dance parties.
In Texas, restaurants often function as community centers, and many small family businesses double as gathering places. During the Festival’s first week, the Texas program will feature Tex-Mex, Southern, “cowboy,” Vietnamese and Polish cooking. Lyly Nguyen from HU-Dat Noodle House in Corpus Christi; Tom Perini from Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap; Wendy Power from the Kiolbassa Provision Co. in San Antonio; and Diana Trevino from El Mirador restaurant in San Antonio will take part in lively discussions and demonstrations to explain to visitors how their cultures influence their food.
During the second week of the Festival, visitors can experience Czech cooking, Texas barbecue and El Paso Mexican cuisine and also learn about chili-making and “cowboy”-cooking from a seasoned veteran of the trail. Jean Marie Bohuslav and Rene Matula from Komensky; Bill Avila of El Paso; Louis McMillan from Fallin; Steve and Betty Orsak from Katy and Tom Nall from Burnet will share with visitors their joys of cooking in Texas.
Sponsored by the Texas Department of Agriculture, eight Texas wineries will share with visitors the story of how winemaking became a full-fledged industry in Texas. During the first week, Grape Creek Vineyards (Fredericksburg), Alamosa Wine Cellars (Bend), Haak Winery and Vineyards (Santa Fe) and Texas Hills Vineyard (Johnson City) will explain to visitors why Texas is emerging as a major wine-producing region in the United States.
During the second week, the newer McPherson Cellars (Lubbock), Kiepersol Estates (Tyler), and LightCatcher Winery (Fort Worth) will join pioneers Fall Creek Vineyards (Tow) and Texas’ only master sommelier—Guy Stout of Houston—to share their stories and winemaking techniques with visitors.
“Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine” is produced in partnership with the Texas Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism. The major donor to the program is the Texas Commission on the Arts. Contributors to the program include the Texas Department of Agriculture; the City of El Paso; Houston Endowment Inc.; the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau; and the City of San Antonio Office of Cultural Affairs. Additional support for this program is provided by the Music Performance Fund, with major in-kind support provided by Southwest Airlines, the official airline of the program.
About the Festival
The 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will feature three programs. In addition to “Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine,” the other programs are “Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon” and “NASA: 50 Years and Beyond.”
The Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. With approximately 1 million visitors each year, the Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The Festival’s Web site is http://www.folklife.si.edu.
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