2015 Folklife Festival | Alex Siegman


Every year the Smithsonian Folklife Festival takes over the National Mall for two weeks in late June and early July.

 Sunday I braced the grey skies and walked from Foggy Bottom down to the National Mall, just in front of the Capitol Building, where I was met by thousands of visitors – mostly young families and children plodding around on the grass.

 In a promotional video, Richard Kurin, the Director at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, described the annual event as “[A] living, cultural heritage exposition,” and his description was right on queue.

 When I first arrived at 11 am I listened to members of the Ballumbrosio family from the Afro-Peruvian band “Tutuma” and the family from the Cumbia-Amazonica band “Los Wembler’s” speak about passing songs and musical style throughout generations.

 Next I listened in on Wilde Moran discuss his personal story as a rancher in Peru, who, during his honeymoon in the United States, decided that he wanted to move here and open their own ranch in Gainesville, VA.

 After listening to Moran, the smell of chicken and potatoes made its way to the stage, and I joined in line to watch The Catacora sisters from Tradiciones Carumenas demonstrate how they make a traditional cornmeal soup, after which I bought myself a smorgasbord of delicious, traditional Peruvian foodstuffs.

 To end my day, I walked over to the center of the National Mall, with the Capitol Building directly in front of me, and watched the Wachiperi men of the Peruvian Amazon demonstrate their archery skills!

 All in all, the festival was a fantastic experience! I got to see real members of real cultures around the world demonstrate their crafts, tell their stories, and share their food. The festival continues next week, and I highly recommend you stop by!

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