2023 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Takes Place Virtually and In-Person June and July

Events, News from the Field

Visitors to the 2023 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will experience this country’s diverse cultural landscape in two featured programs: “The Ozarks: Faces and Facets of a Region” and “Creative Encounters: Living Religions in the U.S.”

The festival will be presented from June 29 to July 4 and July 6 to July 9. Most activities will take place on the National Mall between 12th and 14th streets. Daytime programs by musicians, dancers, cooks, artisans, storytellers and others will run from 11 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. On select evenings, special concerts will begin at 6 p.m. Admission to the festival is free and open to the public.

“This year marks a much-desired return to programs featuring cultural stories found throughout the U.S.,” said Sabrina Lynn Motley, festival director. “The opportunity to look within presented us with a timely challenge requiring our partners and staff to bring fresh eyes to the familiar, push beyond tired stereotypes and highlight diverse sources of creativity and community.”  

The festival is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and presented in collaboration with the National Park Service. It is made possible by contributions from individuals and public, nonprofit and corporate entities. Promotional support is provided by The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Area Authority (WMATA).

The Ozarks: Faces and Facets of a Region

The Ozarks’ name has its historic origins in how Native Illini peoples referred to their southern neighbors who dwelled in the lands where the Arkansas River empties into the Mississippi River. Today, it is generally recognized as a geographic expanse stretching across portions of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Illinois, and is known for a distinct blend of caves, streams, hills, forests and fields. Culturally, the region’s music, dance, food and crafts reflect interactions between long-established populations and new immigrants, urban and rural communities.

The program will feature large-scale murals and a mountain-bike trail build, music jam sessions and performances, dance and plant-knowledge workshops, food and craft demonstrations, and curated discussions.

“The Ozarks: Faces and Facets of a Region” is sponsored by Missouri State University, Missouri Division of Tourism, Arkansas Tourism, the Windgate Foundation, University of Arkansas, Experience Fayetteville and Committee of 100 for the Ozark Folk Center. The program received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the National Museum of the American Latino; the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative Pool.

Creative Encounters: Living Religions in the U.S.

Religion, faith, spirituality and ethical humanism are important sources of creativity and meaning for many Americans. The crafts, food, music, dance and stories they animate can foster deep understanding and engagement. Conversely, they can also fuel social disaffection and disruption. In 2023, the festival will take a deep look at the “creative encounters” that arise from the diversity of religious and ethical humanist knowledge, experience and practice found throughout the United States. Similar to past festival programs, “Creative Encounters” will bring musicians, cooks, artisans, storytellers and other participants to share their lives, skills and practices as well as explore with visitors their own belief systems and how religion shapes their lives. The program is organized around the following themes: Makers of Faith, Sound Religion, Body and Spirit, Kitchen Theology and Futurisms.

Read the full press release on the Smithsonian Institute website.

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