Folklife reminds us every year that the Northwest, like the rest of the U.S., is a “tossed salad.” More than 100 of the world’s cultures are represented in our region. Many of these communities can be found right here in Snohomish County.
The 47th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, which is May 25-28 at the Seattle Center, focuses on the region’s Mexican-American roots.
With the theme “Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond,” this year’s festival will highlight Mexican-American culture through stories, art, film, song, cuisine and dance. See the full schedule and create your own at www.nwfolklife.org/2018festivalschedule.
Northwest Folklife bills the festival as one of the largest multicultural events in the U.S. — and it has the numbers to back it up. This year’s festival has more than 6,000 performers scheduled on more than 25 stages, all based around the Seattle Center. An estimated 250,000 people are expected to attend.
Thirty-two of this year’s acts are from Snohomish County. See the complete list with the online version of this story at www.heraldnet.com.
Notable acts from the county that are set to perform at the festival include:
Everett’s Ixtlixochitl White Hawk will demonstrate Aztec dancing at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Open-Air Dance Stage. White Hawk is an indigenous artist, cultural educator and ambassador. She travels the world as the spokeswoman for the Tloke-Nahuake Traditional Aztec Fire Dancers.
She has said that her artistic work is an expression of her Aztec roots as she lives and thrives in two worlds: one traditional, one contemporary.
North By Northwest Morris of Mountlake Terrace will perform morris dancing, a form of English folk dance accompanied by a band. See the dancers 11 a.m. Saturday and again at 12:25 p.m. Sunday on the Almory Court Stage. The dance involves rhythmic stepping in clogs to popular tunes from the 19th century.
Lynnwood’s The Stumbling Fiddler will play Celtic music at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at the Trad Stage. The band is made up of mostly school teachers who share a love of music and whiskey. They have played together since 2014 at Burns Night and St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
Kommon Unity, a Seattle Hand Drummers Performance group, will play rhythms and jams of many genres, including African and Afro-Cuban, at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Discovery Zone Stage. The Snohomish-based percussion ensemble is made up of members Nathan Collins, Ken Duhe, Spirit Windwalker, Jeffrey Slavens and Aziz Marani.
Brier’s Juliana & PAVA was founded in 2008 by Russian folk singer and ethnomusicologist Juliana Svetlitchnaia with the goal of preserving and promoting Russian folk songs. The band will perform at 2:45 p.m. Sunday at the Bagley Wright Theatre, 155 Mercer St.
Svetlitchnaia collected centuries-old songs on visits to Russian villages, where they were passed down through generations by memory alone.
“We say the festival is for the people by the people,” said Kelli Faryar, executive artistic director for the nonprofit organization. “It truly is a community-powered gathering.”
Except this year’s Folklife was almost canceled when donations were lagging in 2017.
But the festival managed to collect enough donations last year to make it happen this Memorial Day weekend.
Before last year’s celebration, the organization let festival-goers know that if they didn’t donate $350,000 while attending the four-day festival, there would be no 2018 event. The festival doesn’t charge admission.
“We are committed to access for all regardless of background or income and, therefore, continue to operate without tickets or gates,” Faryar said. “It’s not easy to sustain, and we need your support. We ask attendees to make their best donation possible.”
Northwest Folklife’s annual budget is $1.3 million, with about $300,000 of that coming from Friends of Folklife each year. Its budget includes operating expenses and other year-round events, but the festival is its largest by far. Yet donations to the festival have steadily declined, even as costs have gone up.
The nonprofit has six full-time employees in the off-season. Apart from the 10 additional staffers employed during festival season, everyone involved, including performers, is a volunteer.
Attendees hit the goal of $350,000 for at-the-festival donations in 2017. This year’s goal is to reach $360,000, as the festival ramps up for its 50th anniversary.
The first Northwest Folklife Festival was presented at Seattle Center in 1972 as the region’s world culture event. Nearly 50 years later, the festival continues to offer an array of art and culture drawn from local communities.
Suggested donation is $10 per person or $20 per family per day. A donation of $50 makes you a Friend of Folklife. Learn more about supporting Folklife at nwfolklife.kindbase.com.
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; firstname.lastname@example.org; @sarabruestle.
Snohomish County Folklife
Here are Snohomish County acts set to perform at Northwest Folklife Festival. For time, date and places, see www.nwfolklife.org/2018festivalschedule.
Barvinok, Ukrainian Dance Ensemble
Emiko Noor Nakamura, Azeri Dance
Panama Folklore, Beautiful Dresses & Vibrant Dances
Juliana & PAVA, Ancient Russian Folk Songs
Na Lei O Manuʻakepa, Hawaiian Legends Through Hula
Seirm, Gaelic Songs & Tunes
Ixtlixochitl White Hawk, Aztec Dancers
Sheri Roberts Greimes, Original Rocking Country Blues
Grupo Folklorico Nuestras Raices, Mexico a Flor-de-Piel
The Reclamation Project, Original Americana Music
Alex Rivera Y La Sabrosona, Salsa Y Sabor
Jamtown Howdy Band, Small Percussion Ensembles for Kids
North City Rockers, Multi-Generational Hip Hop Crew
Planet Fly, Soul/Funk Music
Steel Magic Northwest, Pan Wizards and Mystical Steel Bands
The Baltuck/Garrard Family Storytellers, Quartet with Shared DNA
Tony La Stella, Italian Singer & Guitarist (Sinatra, Opera, Italian Pop)
Amy Hall, Indie/Alternative Singer-Songwriter
Brianna Skye and the Dark Clouds, Original Jazz Folk
Learn to Cajun Dance, With MaryLee Lykes
The Stumbling Fiddler, Minivan Celtic Band
Wes Sp8 & the Apollo Proxy, Singer-Songwriter Blues Punk
Friday 4 p.m.: Sarah Holman, Acoustic Pop Performer
McPage & Powell, Six-Piece Acoustic Band
North By Northwest Morris, Northwest English Dancers
Kung Foo Grip, Hip Hop Thrill Ride
Bill Pfleging, Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist Extraordinaire
Boom Boom Diggy, With Nathan Collins
Osem i Devet, Balkan Folk Dance Band
Seattle Hand Drummers Present Kommon Unity, Energetic Hand Drumming
Cascade Cascade, Folk Indie Rock