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2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

June 23-July 4, 2005

In its 39th year, the Festival once again presented a sample of the diverse cultural heritage of America and the world to large public audiences in an educational, respectful, and profoundly democratic way on the National Mall of the United States. True to form, the Festival illustrated the living, vital aspect of cultural heritage and provided a forum for discussion on matters of contemporary concern.

For the first time, a full-scale Festival program was devoted to an Arab nation, Oman. Oman is at the edge of the Arabian Peninsula, both geographically and historically situated between East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Trade routes, frankincense, silverwork, Islam, a strategic location, and oil have connected it to the cultures of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean region, and beyond. Contemporary Omanis live poised between a long and rich past and a future they are in the midst of defining. New roads, hospitals, schools, businesses, high-tech occupations, and opportunities for women are developing alongside traditionally valued religion, family life, artistry, and architecture. Omanis are well aware of the challenges of safeguarding their cultural heritage in an era of globalization. The Festival program provided a vivid illustration of the approaches they have taken and enabled American visitors and Omanis to engage in open, two-way interchange.

During the Festival, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service celebrated its 100th anniversary. Programs in previous years have illustrated the traditions of White House workers and of Smithsonian workers. This Festival examined the occupational culture of Forest Service rangers, smokejumpers, scientists, tree doctors, and many others devoted to the health and preservation of our nation's forests. They were joined by artists and workers from communities that depend upon the forests for their livelihood or sustenance. The Festival offered the opportunity for an active discussion of the significance of our national forests and rangelands to the American people.

Food Culture USA examined the evolution of our nation's palate over the preceding generation. New produce, new foods, new cooking techniques, and even new culinary communities have developed as a result of immigrant groups taking their place in our society, the rise of organic agriculture, and the growing celebrity of ethnic and regional chefs on a national stage. A diversity of growers, food inspectors, gardeners, educators, home cooks and prominent chefs shared their knowledge and creativity as they demonstrated the continuity and innovation in America's culinary culture.

The program in Latino music continued with a series of evening concerts. The 2004 program drew many Latinos to the National Mall, helping the Smithsonian reach out to a major segment of the American population. Audiences in both 2004 and 2005 were thrilled by the performances, as were the musicians who presented their own cultural expressions and thus helped educate their fellow citizens of the nation and the world. Smithsonian Folkways released recordings of three of the groups that had performed the previous year, and one later went on to be nominated for a Grammy award.

The 2005 Festival took place for two five-day weeks (June 23-27 and June 30-July 4) between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive and between 9th Street and 14th Street, south of the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History.

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