The tradition practitioners are the heart of the Festival program. For the Colombia program, the curatorial team selected one hundred tradition practitioners to participate in the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. They based their selection on the fieldwork research reports using the following criteria:
- Individual’s knowledge and skill
- Individual’s association with community
- Individual’s degree of comfort in a social setting
- Balance of representation of traditions across the ecosystems
- Balance of gender and age
Additionally, during the fieldwork research workshops, the curatorial team developed a profile of the ideal participant, the personaje Smithsonian—a versatile person of multiple skills, such as a musician, who is also an instrument maker, a cook, a storyteller, and adept at playing children’s games.