The first Richmond Folk Festival is taking place this weekend, October 10-12, 2008, on downtown Richmond’s historic riverfront. The Richmond Folk Festival continues the three-year tradition established by the hugely successful National Folk Festival in Richmond, Virginia, celebrating the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional craft and food.
The “National” has been held in 27 communities around the country and spent three years on downtown Richmond’s riverfront from 2005 through 2007. The National has moved to Butte, Montana, but Richmond is continuing the cultural celebration by presenting its own festival with the same commitment to quality and authenticity established by the National. Planting the seeds for continuing folk festivals across the country is part of the mission of the National Folk Festival; hence the reason for its three-year stay in selected cities.
In the exact likeness of the National Folk Festival, the Richmond Folk Festival features more than 30 performing groups on seven different stages throughout the festival, performing everything from go-go to gospel; polka to salsa. The inaugural festival also features the MWV Virginia Folklife Area, “New Neighbors: Common Ground in the Commonwealth,” which explores Virginia’s new immigrant cultures; the Genworth Foundation Family Area, offering performances and hands-on crafts and demonstrations geared toward families; a Crafts Marketplace offering a unique shopping experience; and an Ethnic Food Court selling foods from a variety of different cultures. The FREE three-day festival is expected to be one of the largest events in Virginia, and the largest festival in Richmond, drawing visitors from across the country.
The final line-up for the Richmond Folk Festival features: E.U., one of the best go-go groups on the East Coast; Larry Bland and the Volunteer Choir, African-American gospel group; Mark Halata and Texavia, Texas-Czech polka; Plena Libre, Puerto Rican salsa and bomba y plena; The Itals, Jamaican Reggae; Lee Sexton Band, Appalachian banjo; Sharde Thomas & The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, African American pre-blues tradition of fife and drum; James Cheechoo; Cree fiddling; Vieux Farka Touré, Malian blues; Todd Hallawell & Robin Kessinger, Virginia finger-picked and flat-picked guitar; Grupo Cimarrón, Colombian joropo music. The Cellicion Zuni Traditional Dancers, Native dancing, drumming, singing and flute-playing; Tamara & The Shadow Theatre of Java, Javanese shadow puppetry; Drums No Guns, youth percussion ensemble; The Dan Tyminski Band, one of the top bluegrass bands in America.
BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, one of America’s premier Cajun bands and the leading ambassador of Cajun music, Líadan, six young music masters from across the pond in Galway, Limerick and Dublin, Ireland, performing traditional Irish music, Ledward Ka’apana & Mike Kaawa, two of Hawaii’s most respected players of the slack-key and 12-string guitar, Howard Tate, performing Soul and R&B, Dale Watson playing original honky-tonk country, Traditional Arabic music performed by the esteemed Nadeem Dlaikan & Friends, Eddie & Alonzo Pennington, from Princeton, Kentucky, performing thumb-picked guitar, Inuit throat singing performed by Nukariik, a sister duo from Ontario, Canada, Eastern European musical group, Harmonia, San Jose Taiko, performing Japanese drum and dance, and the highly anticipated Tezcatlipoca Voladores, performing the “Sundance” which involves jumping from the top of a 90-foot pole and swinging slowly to the ground in circles from the ropes tied to the flyers’ ankles.
The 2008 MWV Virginia Folklife Area is titled New Neighbors: Common Ground in the Commonwealth. It explores Virginia’s immigrant culture through the artistry, creativity and community life of new immigrants, highlighting artistic achievement, deeply-held cultural expressions and cross-cultural communication. New Neighbors: Common Ground in the Commonwealth explores a range of traditions that extends from the religious traditions of Mexican, Mongolian, and Guatemalan artists to the social musics of Sudan and Indonesia and from the dance costumes of Cambodia and Bolivia to the food ways of Czech, Slovak and German immigrants.
The Richmond Folk Festival also features a Traditional Craft Marketplace with more than 20 artisans selling a variety of hand-crafted arts from quilting, lace making, pottery and basketry to furniture creation, instrument making and wood carving. The Ethnic Food Court offers festival goers foods from around the world such as West African, Greek, German, Indian, Thai, Caribbean, and Asian, along with traditional festival foods for those wary of unique tastes.
The Richmond Folk Festival is produced by Venture Richmond in continuing partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the same organization that produces the National Folk Festival. Other producing partners include the City of Richmond, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the National Park Service, the Library of Virginia and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.
Stage Sponsors and Major Contributors to date include Comcast, Dominion, Genworth Foundation, NewMarket Corp., Philip Morris USA, Richmond Times-Dispatch, SunTrust, The Community Foundation, Ukrop’s/First Market Bank and Wachovia/Wachovia Securities.
For more information, please visit www.venturerichmond.com or call (804) 788-6466.