Free Fun at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Looking to get out of the house for a full day of fun? If your summer schedule has come to a standstill, venture out to the National Mall for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The two-week artistic event, which kicked off on June 27, features countless musicians, artists, activists and performers sharing their traditions and embracing cultural differences.
Three program themes -- Campus and Community, Citified, and Creativity and Crisis -- take attendees on an educational excursion from learning about how to improve their local communities to experiencing classic funk music.
Campus and Community features public universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture together for discussions and activities about issues such as health care and sustainable living. The Citified program focuses on creativity, identity and neighborhoods in Southeast Washington, D.C. Finally, Creativity and Crisis exclusively centers on artistic expression of grief through performances and crafts.
A classic centerpiece of the festival is the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which celebrated its 25th anniversary. The quilt, which is the largest community art project in the world, allows individuals to commemorate, through quilt-making activities, friends and loved ones who succumbed to AIDS.
Coinciding with the AIDS programming, Tony-nominated actress and AIDS activist Sheryl Lee Ralph performed a series of monologues entitled “Sometimes I Cry”: Raising Our Women’s Consciousness to This Crippling Epidemic HIV/AIDS. Featured as part of the Creativity and Crisis program, Ralph performed nine moving stories of women infected with HIV/AIDS.
To find out more about the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, visit the Smithsonian Folklife Festival website. The first week of the festival lasts through July 1, and the second week runs July 4 through 8.