Today I went to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I've been hearing about it since I was a teenager living in the middle of nowhere --sorry Gaylord, but it's true -- and now I can just hop on the train and show up there! It's like a magic portal in a video game. And the best part is that except for the food it's completely free, so anyone can go.
The Folklife Festival features the music, crafts, food, and oral traditions of a different set of cultures each year. This year the music was from South and Central America, the crafts were from Wales, and the oral traditions were from African-American culture. There was food present from all three, but I didn't have any. It sure smelled good though.
This is a band from Puerto Rico that is made up of six guys who play percussion instruments and sing. I am in awe of their abilities. Classical composers put rhythms like these down on paper for people like me to imitate, and while I can play them with some practice, it'll never be as heart-felt as when these guys go after it.
This Welsh gentleman was demonstrating the carding and spinning of wool. I would soooo love to learn to spin, but I'm afraid that's a gateway activity to moving to a farm and raising sheep.
Some of the people gathered were shocked to see how easy it was to join in a new piece of roving (the fuzzy ropes on the table) if the yarn being spun should happen to break. Wool has a natural tendency to stick to itself since it's covered with tiny hooks -- part of what can make it so itchy. When knitting with pure untreated wool, saliva and some palm friction are all that is required to join two ends of yarn.
I'm already waiting for next year to see what countries will be featured!