Smithsonian Presents 44th Annual Folklife Festival

June 16, 2010
News Release

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Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Visitors to the 44th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival can learn about Asian Pacific American culture, the country of Mexico and the occupational traditions of workers at the Smithsonian.

The Festival will be held Thursday, June 24, through Monday, June 28, and Thursday, July 1, through Monday, July 5, 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 special evening events such as concerts and dance parties beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the National Park Service.

“Asian Pacific Americans: Local Lives, Global Ties”

“Asian Pacific Americans: Local Lives, Global Ties” will celebrate the culture of the more than 350,000 Asian Pacific Americans who live in the Washington, D.C., area. Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans are an integral part of the governmental, commercial and cultural life of the nation’s capital region, yet they also participate in traditional practices that keep alive memories and ties to their ancestral homes.

Visitors will be able to see a variety of performances throughout the Festival on the Asian Fusions stage, including opera, dance, concerts and martial arts demonstrations. In the program’s kitchen, the Tea House, local chefs will prepare Indian and Vietnamese curries; Burmese and Filipino rice dishes; Khmer New Year’s foods from Cambodia; and spring rolls from Thailand.

On the program’s narrative stage, Talkstory, visitors will have the opportunity to hear discussions on a variety of topics such as spiritual identity, education, business, Asian Pacific American veterans, technology and immigration. There also will be a daily presentation on the Talkstory stage introducing visitors some of the many languages spoken in the Asian Pacific American community.


“México” will give Festival visitors the opportunity to experience the many cultures of one of the most diverse countries in the world.

Visitors can watch Wixárika (Huichol) ceremonies, participate in Comcáac (Seri) games and join Los Chinelos de Atlatlahucan, a dance troupe from the state of Morelos, accompanied by the Banda de Morelos, in a parade and learn their dance steps. Alfredo Ortega will prepare the traditional candied fruit and vegetables, which he learned to make from his father, and Celsa Iuit, from the Mayan Yucatan peninsula, will show visitors how to make crafts with henequen fiber.

Visitors can learn how maguey (agave) is processed for making mescal from Oaxaca and tequila from Guadalajara. The program also will feature a chinampa, which is based on a
pre-Columbian agricultural system, still practiced on the outskirts of Mexico City. A central feature of the program is the Téenek community’s cosmic aerial ceremony of the palo volantín. Four men “fly” from the top of pole in the four directions of the world and spiral down to earth. Through this ceremony, they pray for rain and fertile land and give thanks for what they will receive.

The program also will feature a variety of different musical traditions from Mexico, including the Mariachi Tradicional Los Tíos, a group that plays a song repertoire distinctive to Jalisco; Hamaac Cazíim, a rock band that sings traditional lyrics in the Comcáac language from the Gulf of California in Sonora on the Pacific Coast; and Grupo Fandango de Artesa Los Quilamos, which is revitalizing an Afro-Mestizo music and dance tradition from the Oaxacan coastal area of Costa Chica.

“Smithsonian Inside Out”

The “Smithsonian Inside Out” will give Festival visitors the opportunity to go
behind-the-scenes of the world’s largest museum and research complex and learn how the work of the Institution’s 6,000 staff members affects the world.

Visitors will be able to see fossilized vertebrae from the giant snake Titanaboa, which was found by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. On Ocean Day (June 28), the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, in partnership with the Natural History Museum, will be at the Festival, allowing visitors to crochet part of a coral reef to call attention to the disappearing wonders of the marine world. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory will display pictures from the Chandra X-ray observatory, and visitors also can take a poll about democracy and have their opinions become part of a future exhibition at the American History Museum.

In two “Behind the Scenes” tents, visitors can learn how Smithsonian staff care for and maintain the Institution’s buildings, artifacts and living collections. Staff from the Office of Exhibits Central will show how they design and fabricate museum exhibitions, while curators and keepers from the National Zoo will discuss how they safely move the park’s animals. Visitors can also create their own hanging baskets or learn about orchids with staff from the Smithsonian Gardens. Staff from the Office of Facilities and Management Reliability will demonstrate infrared cameras that detect roof leaks and share with visitors the latest efforts to make Smithsonian buildings more “green.”

On the discussion stage, Smithsonian staff will participate in conversations about researching and designing popular exhibitions, keeping staff, visitors and collections safe, and new tools and techniques in museum conservation. In the “Ask the Smithsonian” tent staff will answer general questions about the Institution and explain its presence around the world.


The Smithsonian is involved in cultural recovery and revitalization in Haiti, and this year’s Festival is directly assisting by sponsoring artists and musicians and selling crafts. A special evening concert will feature Boukman Eksperyans, and two artists, Mireille Delisme and Levoy Exil, will be in residence at the Festival and will demonstrate their craft and talk with visitors in the Festival’s Marketplace. In addition, the crafts of 77 Haitian artists will be on sale in the Marketplace. The crafts include paintings, metalwork, beadwork, papier-mâche, Vetiver baskets and stone statues ranging in price from $3 to $1,800. All proceeds will support the reinvigoration of traditional crafts in Haiti.


Merchandise produced by Festival artisans and a selection of related books and Smithsonian Folkways recordings will be available for purchase at the Festival Marketplace, located in front of the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art.

Meals, snacks and beverages representing the three programs will be sold at concession stands.


Large-print and CD versions of the daily schedule and a CD version of the program book will be available at information kiosks and the Volunteer tent. Volunteers will be on call to assist wheelchair users. Music stages will have audio loops to assist hard-of-hearing visitors. Service animals are welcome. American Sign Language interpreters will be available on site; the Festival program book will indicate the interpreted presentations. To request other access services not listed above, such as real-time captioning, please call (202) 633-2921 (voice) or e-mail

About the Festival

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, celebrates folk culture with people from across the United States and around the world. The Festival typically includes daily programs of music, song and dance, crafts, occupational skills and cooking demonstrations, storytelling, workshops and narrative sessions for discussing cultural issues. It attracts approximately 1 million visitors a year. The Festival is a research-based production of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is supported by federally appropriated funds; Smithsonian trust funds; contributions from governments, businesses, foundations and individuals; in-kind assistance; and food, recording and craft sales. General support for this year’s Festival comes from the Music Performance Fund, with in-kind support provided by WAMU-88.5 FM and

Follow the Festival on Facebook and Twitter! Festival fans also can keep up with each day’s events though through blogs and webcasts. Visit the Festival website at

For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000 (voice) or (202) 633-5285 (TTY).

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