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  • The Participants Have Arrived

    Participants from all three 2012 Festival Programs assembled for orientation.
    Participants from all three 2012 Festival Programs assembled for orientation.

    The 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival opens in less than twenty-four hours and the National Mall is a hub of activity as final preparations are completed. Many of the Festival participants have arrived and are setting up their sites for tomorrow’s opening. The Folklife Festival is an opportunity for participants to showcase their talents, traditions, and cultures in on of the most iconic places in the United States, the National Mall, in the heart of our nation’s capital, surrounded by the monuments and landmarks that shape our history and identity. We hope that participants will create their own community during the Festival and share experiences and traditions with each other as well as with the public. This morning, June 26, Festival participants and staff gathered at the Red Hot Stage for orientation. For the first time, the participants from all three programs assembled under one roof and met each other face to face.

    Although the level of activity on the Mall could be considered “frantic,” participants are settling in and making the Festival space their own. Design Professor Ann Savageau, of the University of California at Davis, was busily setting up her installation, Bags Across the Globe (BAG), to raise awareness of the environmental problems caused by single-use plastic shopping bags. I asked if she was stressed out, but she replied, “We’ve been so busy we haven’t had time to get stressed.” She paused to chase a plastic bag across the Mall as the wind blew it away. Returning to the installation she exclaimed, “This is great, this is fun, we’ve been working on this for nine months and this festival is a great chance to display our work!”

    The 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival open June 27 and runs until July 8. Come meet all of our participants and learn more about traditions and cultures from across the United States.

    See images from participant orientation. Click on images to enlarge.  All photos by James Mayer

    James Mayer is an intern at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.  He recently graduated from Macalester College, where he studied History and Classics.

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