Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s Marketplace Offers Crafts, Memorabilia and Art

June 9, 2008
News Release

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Visitors to the 42nd annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival will have the opportunity to purchase specialty items rarely seen for sale outside the remote Himalayan country of Bhutan; NASA collectibles and memorabilia; and a variety of items made by Texas crafts people and incredible recordings from Texas performers. This remarkable convergence of products is available only at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Marketplace, which offers products from this year’s programs: “Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon,” “NASA: 50 Years and Beyond” and “Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine.”

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.

The Bhutan section of the Marketplace will feature items made by Bhutanese artisans. This section offers visitors to the Festival the rare opportunity to purchase textiles—arguably the craft for which the country is best known. Items will include handmade and dyed table runners, scarves, shawls, bed covers, wall hangings, traditional clothing and more. Prices range from $60 to $2,000. Shoppers also will find religious items, such as mandalas and thankgkhas, as well as masks, chimes, incense sticks and figurines. Housewares, such as bamboo baskets, brass door handles, wooden bowls and plates, will be on sale.

Bhutan also is known for its innovative postage stamps, which are used to generate revenue and gain recognition for the kingdom. This year’s Marketplace will offer vintage, commemorative and contemporary postage stamps from Bhutan. Of particular interest may be stamps commemorating the United States space program; the world’s first miniature CD-ROM postage stamp, featuring a short documentary about Bhutan ($8 each or $24.95 for the set); and three new stamps issued by Bhutan Post commemorating Bhutan at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Stamp items range in price from $2 to $200. In the Marketplace, visitors can purchase a stamped postcard, enter a message and address it. The card will be taken to Bhutan by program participants and mailed back via Bhutanese Post a few weeks later.

The “NASA: 50 Years and Beyond” program will have available for purchase NASA memorabilia, including commemorative pins, patches and stamps. Kids will enjoy items ranging from solar system and spaceship models to moon dust pens and freeze-dried astronaut ice cream. There also will be items that feature such NASA technology applications as dichroic glass jewelry. This glass was originally developed by NASA scientists and the Department of Defense to protect spacecrafts and people in space from radiation. Program participants will be holding book signings throughout the Festival.

Merchandise for the “Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine” program will include spices, salsas, hot sauces and meat rubs, as well as kitchen implements used by the cooking demonstrators. Among the crafts made by Texan artists will be intricate leather goods, such as Little Ranch boot purses ($172.50), kitchen accessories, specialty night lights and light plates. A variety of jewelry will be available, ranging from silver and turquoise, to double-sided necklaces and bracelets that feature iconic cowgirl images.

In addition to selling music recordings from the three programs, the Marketplace is the only place where visitors will have the opportunity to browse the entire collection of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in person. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, with more than 2,000 recordings of artists from around the world available on CD. This year, featured recordings include “Taquachito Nights: Conjunto Music from South Texas,” “Music of Bhutan” and “Man in Space: The Story of the Journey—Documentary,” which features audio recordings of Alan Shepard’s first space flight. There also will be CD signings with featured artists.

Proceeds from purchases directly support Festival artists and musicians, as well as the Festival itself. The Marketplace is located on the National Mall-side lawn of the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art. It will be open during Festival hours.

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