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Richmond Folk Festival
Announces Virginia Folklife Area

Area will feature Virginia's Immigrant Culture

August 15, 2008 (Richmond, Va.) — The Richmond Folk Festival organizers are excited to announce Virginia’s Immigrant Culture as the theme for the 2008 Virginia Folklife Area. Entitled New Neighbors: Common Ground in the Commonwealth, it will explore the artistry, creativity and community life of new immigrants to Virginia highlighting artistic achievement, deeply-held cultural expressions and cross-cultural communication.

New Neighbors showcases a diverse sampling of traditional artistic expressions practiced by new immigrants in Virginia, framing them in such a way as to be informative, entertaining and bridge-building. With skills ranging from music making, singing and dancing to lace making, bread baking and ceremonial costume designing, these practitioners of traditional art forms carry on practices that are indicative of the creativity of the new immigrants to our state and reflective of the continuance of tradition.

“I hope that this program encourages the festival's patrons to explore their own traditions and those of their neighbors and neighborhoods,” said Chris Williams, folklorist/cultural heritage specialist for Arlington County and curator of the 2008 Virginia Folklife Area.

“If I were able to talk with the festival visitors as they arrived, I'd ask them to not only enjoy the artistry - beautiful works that often carry great cultural significance - but I'd also ask them to consider the artist as a person. They may come from a far-away place, speak a different language, wear different garb, or work in an art form the visitors have never seen, but they're really not very different from you or me. They're providing for their families, honoring where they came from through the arts, and making homes for themselves in Virginia.”

Lisa Sims, Director of Events for festival organizers Venture Richmond, said the festival is lucky to have someone of Chris Williams’ stature curating the New Neighbors program. “We could not have found anyone better qualified to put together this rich cultural program for us. Chris has worked with our partners, the NCTA, first as a staff-member and now as a volunteer and consultant/collaborator for over a dozen years. The first material culture presentation he organized for them was at the National Folk Festival in Chattanooga in 1995. He has also done curatorial work and programming for the Lowell Folk Festival, The American Folk Festival (Bangor), the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival, and others.

“We know that this year’s program is going to be one of the most popular areas of the Richmond Folk Festival,” Sims continued. “Chris’s “day job” is folklorist/cultural heritage specialist for Arlington County. He’s in the community centers and on the streets talking with "folks" nearly every day. He has found that even in Arlington, that most inside of the 'inside the beltway' communities, with its affluence, proximity to "power" and white-collar economy, traditional culture is tenacious, especially in the lives of our new immigrants.”

Participants in the 2008 Virginia Folklife Area include:

Alfo-Conce of Arlington County - Guatemalan Alfombra makers; Ernesto Gomez and David Amoroso of Arlington County - Mexican Dia de los Muertos altar builders and papel picado makers; Mongolian Goo-Ertunts Society of Arlington County - Mongolian Ger construction and household arts; Miguel Flores of Loudoun County – Bolivian “Diablada” dance costume maker; Gankhuyag Natsag of Arlington County -Mongolian Tsam Mask and Costume Maker; Ahmed Osman, Kwathi Ajawin and associates with the North American Fashoda Association of Alexandria, Richmond and Arlington - Sudanese Coffee & Tea Ceremonies; Oral Traditions; and Children's games; St. John the Baptist Lutheran Church Ladies Auxiliary of Emporia, Greensville County - Slovakian Holiday Food Traditions; Sochieta Ung of Arlington County - Cambodian Dance Costume Designer and Fabricator; Southside Virginia Czech/Slovak Heritage Society, Joyce Pritchard and Marie Blaha Pearson, of Chesterfield County and Petersburg - Community Historians; Birgitte Hansen Tessier & Anita Barry of Fauquier and Culpepper Counties - Bobbin lace & tatting; Trupti Vakharia of Fairfax County - Indian Rangoli maker; Nadia Hoots, Joanna Griffin & Elaine Hampton of the Tidewater Ukrainian Cultural Association in Virginia Beach - Ukrainian Pysanky (painted egg) decorators; Wilhelm and Melanie Wanders of Manassas - Chocolaterie Wanders, Chocolate and Marzipan makers.

Music/Dance Participants include:

Husnu Aydogdu Turkish Music Ensemble of Arlington and Fairfax Counties - Turkish Instrumental and Vocal Music; Dholi Mastana, Dholi Brij and Dholi Mosaicof Charlottesville - Indian (Punjabi) Percussion Ensemble; Ganga of Falls Church - Indian (Bengali) Song and Instrumental Music Ensemble; River Nile Band of Alexandria - Sudanese Popular music; Rumah Gadang Group of Arlington County - Indonesian (West Sumatran) Music and Dance; The Sama Ensemble of Vienna - Persian Daf and Tombak drumming; Solazo of Floyd County - Ecuadoran, Chilean & Argentine Music; Thongtanh Souvannaphanh & Ensemble of Alexandria - Laotian Instrumental Music; Jose "Chino" Terrones of Falls Church - master dancer, and Peruvian music and dance ensemble of Peruvian Marinera Dance.

Along with the 2008 Virginia Folklife Area, the Richmond Folk Festival has also announced eleven of the more than 25 performing groups to be featured at the festival. These artists include: 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 will be performed by the esteemed Nadeem Dlaikan & Friends, Eddie & Alonzo Pennington, from Princeton, Kentucky, performing thumb-picked guitar, Inuit throat singing will be performed by Nukariik, a sister duo from Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, Quebec, Eastern European musical group, Harmonia, and San Jose Taiko, performing Japanese drum and dance.

Venture Richmond, in collaboration with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) and the Richmond Folk Festival Programming Committee, has selected a rich variety of musicians for this year’s festival. Additional groups will be announced in the coming months as they are confirmed for the 2008 event. Please visit the website,, for complete performer bios and photos.

About the Richmond Folk Festival

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 Richmond Folk Festival takes place October 10-12, 2008. In the exact likeness of the National Folk Festival, the Richmond Folk Festival will feature more than 30 performing groups on seven live music stages with continuous music and dance performances, along with a Virginia Folklife demonstration area, children's and family activities, a folk arts marketplace, regional and ethnic foods and more. 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 “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.

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 or call (804) 788-6466.

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