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The Folklore in Us All

For the Washington bartender life is an endless round of stories. Each night he listens to the hard-luck tales of his customers. Travelling the length of the bar, he tells them stories of famous customers and infamous drinks. At home, storytelling is a ritual too. His children beg him for the fairy tales he spins off the top of his head. Then his wife repeats the saga of her grandmother's journey from the old country. Each year, the family settles on a log at the Festival of American Folklife and listens, simply listens to an Appalachian fiddler play.

In the past few years, the Smithsonian has begun to reassess the role of folk festivals in ...

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