Folklife festival is just one in a...


Folklife festival is just one in a season of festivals

The week ahead is packed with mega-festivals. The National Mall will be the site for one of the largest and most popular events in the nation's capital -- the Festival of American Folklife. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service, this year's 26th annual event is scheduled Thursday through June 29 and July 2-5.

The festival calls attention to America's diverse cultures through presentations of music, dance, song, stories, foods and crafts. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Each evening (except July 4) between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. musicians will play traditional music for dancing. All events are free.

As is its custom, the festival features four main programs. This year the focuses are on New Mexico, Maroon culture in the Americas, changing American Indian music and the 200th anniversary of the White House.

"American Encounters," a permanent exhibition that opens Wednesday at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, concentrates on the historical relationships of New Mexico's cultures. Cowboys, crafts people, musicians, cooks and storytellers from all over the state will come to the festival to demonstrate how its many different cultures helped to shape the state. There will be a re-creation of a town plaza, a home and a sheep camp, and demonstrations of how adobes are built, cooking, "santos" carving and Pueblo social dancing.

A second program brings to the festival people from Colombia, French Guiana, Jamaica, Mexico and other areas where Maroons settled. Maroons are descendants of enslaved Africans who escaped New World plantations. The third program, "The Changing Soundscape in Indian Country," will be demonstrated by a blues band from the Onondaga Reservation, a "chicken scratch" band of the O'odham in Arizona, and Indian fiddlers and singers of protest songs. For the final program, retired men and women who worked at the White House from the presidency of William Howard Taft to that of George Bush will come to the festival to share their experiences.

Shoppers will find handicrafts produced by New Mexican and Maroon artisans for sale, along with New Mexican, Jamaican and American Indian food.

For information, call (202)357-2700 or, during the festival, (202) 357-4574 for a recording listing daily events.

Another major event opening this week is the 43rd annual Kutztown Folk Festival. This nine day celebration of Pennsylvania Dutch culture begins Saturday and continues through July 5 at the fairgrounds in Kutztown, Pa.

With 20 daily scheduled activities, entertainment on the Main Stage and educational seminars on another stage, visitors will have to do some fast stepping to see it all. A sampling of attractions includes everything from live farm animals to sheepshearing, puppet shows, a re-enactment of an Amish wedding, a one-room schoolhouse and the famous Pennsylvania Dutch food.

More than 200 artisans and crafts people will give daily demonstrations of 18th, 19th and 20th century craft skills. Quilts are also an important part of the festival. Out of more than 1,700 entries, 38 prize-winning quilts are chosen for display at the festival. Each is priced under $500.

Gates are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with some activities continuing until 7 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults; $4 for children under 12. Parking costs $2. For information, call (800) 447-9269.

Arts in Columbia

The Columbia Festival of the Arts opens Wednesday for 10 days of music, art, theater and dance. This multiarts festival offers more than 60 events at various locations in and around Columbia, including master-classes, workshops and activities for children. You can hear pianist Andre Watts perform with the Baltimore Symphony, folk musician John McCutcheon, jazz great Ahmad Jamal and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, or attend a world premiere performance by the Tmu-Na Theatre of Tel Aviv.

Two days of free family entertainment will be presented Saturday and next Sunday at Columbia's Lakefront. Performers include traditional American Indian dancers, jugglers, roving clowns, musicians and children's recording artists, and area restaurants will sell food. Free concerts will be held there Friday and Saturday evenings and July 3 at 9:30 p.m.

Other features are a juried craft show, storytellers, arts shows and lectures, and a wide variety of musical programs. For a complete schedule of events, call (410) 381-0520.

Seafood festival

Another reason to visit the shore next weekend is the Tilghman Island Seafood Festival on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. A variety of home-cooked fresh-from-the-bay seafood will be available all day at the Tilghman Island firehouse and in the park across the street.

Admission is free. For information, call (410) 822-4606.

Grantsville Days

Grantsville Days is expected to bring 10,000 people to the Western Maryland town of Grantsville next weekend.

Three days of festivities begin Friday with a parade at 7:15 p.m. down Main Street to the park, where entertainment will continue until 11 p.m.

Grantsville Park will be the hub of activities for the next two days. Live music, crafts, children's activities, midway games, tractor and horse-pulling contests, and nightly fireworks are among the many attractions. Sunday's special event will be the Liberty Cantata, a musical presentation by area community singers with brass accompaniment, which includes a montage of scenes from American history.

Hours are 7:15 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. For information, call (301) 895-5177.

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