The constant sounds of music have ceased, and the aroma of cooking food no longer wafts over the National Mall. At this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, more than 300 people who are the prime bearers of their cultural traditions shared their music, dance, crafts, foodways, and stories with over 1,083,000 visitors.
Festival Director Stephen Kidd comments: “This was a great year. The participants’ enthusiasm at the closing ceremony on Monday testified to the fact that they enjoyed their visit and felt appreciated, and we were proud to host them and share our model of the Festival. The outpouring of pride from the Colombian American community in their reception of the Colombia program was unparalleled. The Rhythm and Blues program was hugely popular. Visitors were able to hear the stories behind the music and its musicians, and everyone has had personal experiences with the songs that were performed, and they enjoyed dancing to it. I have never seen the Festival’s dance floors so consistently full, and the dancers so diverse and synchronized! The Peace Corps program brought an enthusiastic cadre of returned volunteers to the Mall, and they were able to reunite with other Peace Corps volunteers, and more importantly, share with their family and friends the experiences that they had during their service. It was a perfect way to celebrate the Peace Corps’ fiftieth anniversary.”
Most notable was the energy of the Festival, as visitors and participants expressed great curiosity and empathy toward one another in their interactions. “My lasting image of the Festival is that of the joy on visitors’ faces,” said Dr. Kidd. “The Festival team outperformed themselves and really pulled the event together. This kind of work demands that everyone just work hard and pitch in, and I am proud of our team, many of whom are involved behind the scenes, for making this Festival a success.”
Though the Festival event is over, please return to to the blog, as we are continuing to post more photo galleries, video, audio streams, and additional material from the 2011 Festival.
The image gallery above shows just a few of the hundreds of staff, volunteers, and interns that worked behind the scenes at the 2011 Festival. Photos by Josue Castilleja, Ariel Fielding, Zaki Ghul, Sojin Kim, Van Luong, Krystyn MacGregor, and Eric Cesar Morales.