Smithsonian Folklife Festival Features Hands-On Activities for Children and Families

June 8, 2009
News Release
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The Smithsonian’s 43rd annual Folklife Festival will feature a variety of activities for families and children, including crafts, musical performances and special guides for young visitors. This year’s programs are “Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture,” “Las Americas: Un mundo musical/The Americas: A Musical World” and “Wales Smithsonian Cymru.”

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

“Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture”
Kids and their families can begin their exploration of the program in the “Young Wordsmiths” tent where they can discover the art of the spoken word in African American culture through plays, stories, song and dance, poetry and African American folklore. Performance sessions will feature the celebrated Ella Jenkins, the renowned Schroeder Cherry Puppets, the Asante Children’s Theatre and “The Blues, Raps, Rhymes and Snaps!” of the Dr. Beverly J. Robinson Community Folk Culture Program from New York.    

Kids also can compose poetry, tell stories, act in a skit or practice their comedic talents. Other hands-on activities include crafts such as making finger and paper-bag puppets, storyboarding and creating a cultural scrapbook.

"Las Americas: Un mundo musical/The Americas: A Musical World"
During the second week of the Festival, young visitors can listen to the sounds of Mariachi Chula Vista, a 14-member youth ensemble from Chula Vista High School in Chula Vista, Calif. Musical director Mark Fogelquist has taught his students traditional Mexican mariachi music and with it, a sense of self, heritage and pride. Now one of the best student mariachi groups in the country, Mariachi Chula Vista performs more than 100 shows a year and has won numerous awards.

“Wales Smithsonian Cymru”
Visitors to the Wales Family Activities tent (Gweithdai i’r Teulu) can learn more about Wales through a variety of hands-on activities. Kids will be able to help artist Mary Lloyd-Jones create a mural and listen as musician Gai Toms makes music on his recycled drum kit. 

Daily craft projects will show young visitors how they can take what they would normally throw away and make it into a piece of art. Kids also will want to pick up a “Little Welsh Quiz” to test their knowledge about the country. Prizes will be awarded for taking the quiz.

About the Festival
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

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Amy Kehs