Skip to main content
  • Day Eight: Top Ten Photos

    “What does a cucumber wear to prom? A cucumberbund.”

    Turns out our comedian isn’t the only one with jokes at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival! Chef Rob Connoley shared thisjoke (that he, notably, came up with himself) during his foodways demonstration while whipping up a pawpaw vinegar pie. Though met with a chorus of booing and groaning, Rob was undeterred and kept the humor going as he shared stories of foraging in the Ozarks.

    Over in Creative Encounters, a group of kids had fun learning about Sikh music with Raj Academy. When Preetinder Singh Dhindsa asked them to guess how many strings the taus had, he was met with a chorus of shouts encompassing a wide range of guesses, with one young visitor estimating “400.” “You’ve just named every single number,” he retorted to the kids. Eventually, they were hands-on with all nineteen strings on the instrument and took a closer look at the peacock carved into the end of the instrument body.

    Come laugh along with us on the National Mall, and share your favorite quotes on social media using #2023Folklife.

    A woman leans over a table holding a plate full of green leaves and yellow flowers, smiling widely. Potted flowers hang on the wall behind her.
    We’re all smiles for edible foraged goods! Come learn from Arkansas herbalist Susan Belsinger what leaves and flowers of the Ozarks aren’t just nice to look at but nice to snack on!
    Photo by Sonya Pencheva, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A man stands behind a table and touches a piece of wood shaped like the body of a guitar. He speaks to visitors about guitar making. Behind him are more wooden pieces demonstrating the different steps of the guitar making process.
    David Cavins can make his guitar and play it too. He’ll even show you how! Visit the Guitar Workshop to learn more about the process from the luthier himself.
    Photo by Grace Bowie, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    Two women sit on stools outside facing away from the camera. They look towards each other, immersed in conversation. Behind them is a large ofrenda, decorated with orange and pink flowers and photos of relatives who have passed on.
    Latinx curatorial assistant Natalie Solis shared a moment with Ofelia Esparza in front of the Esparza family’s recently built ofrenda, or Day of the Dead altar. Ofelia is a sixth-generation altarista.
    Photo by Grace Bowie, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A woman leans over a table, pushing a needle into a large piece of felt. Behind her others do the same as a standing man looks on.
    Documentation coordinator Ceci Peterson took a minute away from processing photos to practice Kazakh felting traditions. Okay... more like an hour.
    Photo by Gabriel Sokol, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    On a stage in front of a small crowd, two women interact with two men on a screen; all four are projected on a screen above. The man on the screen signs in American Sign Language.
    Through ASL interpreters—and no small technological feat—Reverend Beth Lockard (on stage, right) and Rabbi Darby Leigh (on screen, bottom left) discussed the barriers to spiritual belonging as Deaf practitioners and their journeys in and out of faith and service with Festival accessibility coordinator Diane Nutting.
    Photo by Sonya Pencheva, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A large pile of black coal sits in a furnace. A half-formed metal gig, similar to a small trident, sits in the hottest part of the coals. The tines of the gig glow orange from the heat.
    Gigmaker Anthony Martin plunged a work-in-progress gig—used to hunt fish in the clear Ozark creek waters—into the flames of the forge. Wouldn’t you want to stand by this for hours on a hot D.C. day?
    Photo by Grace Bowie, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
     Two hands hold the body of a carved wood figure. One hand uses a tool to carve off a layer of wood while the other holds the block steady.
    Need a hand? New Mexico santero Nicolas Otero has been hand-carving a traditional bulto.
    Photo by Ronald Villasante, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    Two women share a glance and a smile with each other. They both wear head wraps.
    Community historians and priestesses Martine de Souza and Jeanne Paule de Souza have come from Benin to share Vodun, a traditional spiritual practice in several West African countries.
    Photo by Toby Hettler, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A group of six form a circle on a dance floor. A few of the dancers hold hands and spin as they move.
    Square dance masters, Marshallese dancers, and Festival visitors danced round and round in a unique crossover between traditions.
    Photo by Ronald Villasante, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    Nine singers in traditional Ukrainian dress sing into microphones on the Ralph Rinzler Main Stage, with a video of a man playing a traditional Ukrainian plucked string instrument.
    Kicking off the evening concert, Bomba Yemayá from Loíza, Puerto Rico, showed us the storytelling power of dance.
    Photo by Gideon DeMarco, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

    If you’ve been keeping an eye on the forecast, you may have seen some stormy weather headed for D.C. on Sunday. So come visit the Festival on Saturday in all its outdoor glory! The day promises to be full of fun: we’ll have a whole hog butchering at Festival Foodways, Native American storytelling with Gene Tagaban, a performance from folksinger Willi Carlisle, traditional Persian music, sorghum stories with Rob Connoley, and so much more.

    Once the evening rolls around, we’ve got a bluegrass bonanza in partnership with Smithsonian Folkways. Sad Daddy, The Creek Rocks, and Po’ Ramblin’ Boys will dive into folk music in the Ozarks and beyond. Afterward, the Scrivner, McAlister, and Cavins Trio join caller Bob Zuellig for round two of our Community Square Dance! Come do-si-do the night away and celebrate the penultimate evening of this year’s Festival. 

    Penny Benak, Grace Bowie, Elisa Hough, and Daniel Zhang are the mighty media team for the Folklife Festival.

  • Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.