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How to Participate

Three men pose in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, each holding a musical instrument: fiddle, banjo, and acoustic guitar.
Musicians David Scrivner, Nathan McAlister, and David Cavins performed at the 2022 Festival in a preview of the 2023 Ozarks program.
Photo courtesy of MSU Libraries

The 2023 Folklife Festival will bring Ozarks-based musicians, artisans, cooks, performers, and others to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to celebrate and share their culture. Presented through two weeks of performances, workshops, demonstrations and other participatory experiences, the program will highlight diverse populations from across the region, encompassing parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Illinois.

If you are interested in participating in the program, please read through the following page and fill out the Cultural Expressions Survey & Interest Form. We will use the information collected to identify individuals and groups who will present at the Festival and to survey the cultural resources available within the Ozarks for research and archival purposes on behalf of the Smithsonian, Missouri State University Libraries, and our partners.

Presentation spaces will include:

  • A formal music and dance venue with stage and dance floor for musical, dance, and storytelling performances and workshops
  • Cooking and food demonstration areas
  • Craft and occupation demonstration areas
  • A narrative stage for thematic discussions and panels
  • A family area with activities geared toward younger visitors

Selected candidates should be able to:  

  • Attend the Festival June 28 to July 9, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
  • Provide hands-on learning opportunities for visitors of all ages (e.g. workshops, discussions, activities, performances, or demonstrations)
  • Present cultural expressions in accessible and interactive ways (i.e. without screens or PowerPoint presentations)
  • Represent diverse geographical, gender, or ethnic identities
  • Present on multiple areas of expertise

Please note that the Festival is held outside on the National Mall. Participants must be able to withstand the outdoor summer climate of D.C. for eight hours at a time, with temperatures often reaching or exceeding ninety degrees. All participants have access to the Festival’s participant hospitality tent, where they can hydrate and rest during breaks.

Click the button to complete the survey through Missouri State University. 

Key Themes

The program is organized around the following four themes. Ideally, participants will be able to demonstrate expertise in multiple areas.

  • Four women sit at a table, working togethered on a patterened quilt.
    Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell/Ozarks Alive
    Celebrations and Gatherings

    Possible topics: seasonal events, homecomings and homegoings, religious and spiritual practices, foodways, pie suppers, quilting circles.

  • Four young musicians performing on stage with fiddle, upright bass, and acoustic guitar.
    Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell/Ozarks Alive
    Stories, Sounds, and Show Business

    Possible topics: house parties and jam sessions, the legacy of the Ozark Jubilee and underground “show caves,” the contemporary showcases of Branson and Silver Dollar City, storytelling (traditional and contemporary).

  • Neon road sign shaped like an arrow, with the name Springfield. Under it, a sign for Route 66 Birthplace. Brilliant sunset in the background.
    Photo courtesy of MSU Libraries
    Migrations, Movements, and Pathways

      Possible topics: highways, railroads, tourism corridors (e.g., Route 66), waterways, hiking trails, “Trail of Tears,” Osage Trace, ancestral vs. adopted homelands, transplanted traditions of new immigrant groups.

  • Reflection of the sunrise on the water, underneath an arched bridge.
    Photo courtesy of MSU Libraries
    Connections to Land and Place

    Possible topics: gardening, herbalism, foraging, gig fishing and making, johnboats, lakes, rivers and streams, vernacular architecture, outdoor recreational activities, mountain biking, and other sports.

Frequently Asked Questions

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