Monday, June 30, 2008
Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2008
Click on pictures for more detail in the pictures.
Every year around the time of the Fourth of July Celebration on the Washington D.C. Mall the Smithsonian Museum hosts the National Folklife Festival. Each year's festival highlights at least one foreign country and one U.S. state. Last year's festival was outstanding. Northern Ireland, the four countries that border the Mekong River (China, Vietnam,Cambodia and Laos) and the state of Virginia were the themes for the food, music, dance and displays. This year's featured places all in some way have a connection to Texas the featured state for this year. Texas I assume was chosen as a tribute to President Bush's last year in office. I didn't know NASA was a country or state but it was chosen because of its 50 anniversary this year. And of course, it has a Texas connection with the Houston Space Center.
The one foreign country featured this year is the little known country of Bhutan which is wedged between China to the north and India to the south and which stretches from tropical jungles in the south to cold Himalayan mountain passes in the north. And if you want to go to a place in the U.S. to learn about Bhutan, go to the University of Texas at El Paso where all the campus buildings are built in the style of Bhutan Buddhists architecture. (Who knew! Not me!) In the pictures posted here you see the U.S. Capital and the Mall and a replica of a Bhutan Buddhist Temple. A brochure I picked up shows the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) with the same style of architecture. Kathleen Worrell, UTEP's first dean, had the campus's first building built in this style in 1917 and nearly all other UTEP buildings followed this style of architecture. The top photo shows a group of Bhutan dancers doing a skull dance. We also had the opportunity to see an antler dance and the Buddhist monks black hat dance.
The fifth picture down was taken inside the tent labeled the Texas Dance Hall. Jack and I were transposed in our minds back to 1975 when we attended the wedding of an army auditor at El Paso whose post wedding reception was held at El Paso's Red Dog Saloon. The two artists up on stage playing and singing are Lloyd Maines and Teri Hendrix. Lloyd Maines besides being a Texas country artist in his own right is now probably best known as the father of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks who had a few strong comments to make about President Bush's invasion of Iraq when she performed in London in 2003. Final note. We try to attend the Folklife
Festival each year. On a scale of one to five stars I would give the 2008 festival four stars and the 2007 just five stars plus. Jack and I both noticed that while there were many local people and tourists in town for this annual event there seemed to be a lot less then in previous years. I think gas prices and food costs are having a big impact on tourism.