Explore the Art of Masquerade at the 14th Annual Richmond Folk Festival

The Virginia Folklife Area Celebrates Virginia’s Costuming and Adornment Traditions

RICHMOND- For Richmonders, fall means a lot of universal things, like going back to school, leaves crunching underfoot, and pumpkin spice-flavored everything, but we also have one enormous reason to love the season—the annual Richmond Folk Festival. But with nearly as much enthusiasm as when they flock to the historic Richmond riverfront to enjoy folk traditions from all over the world, the citizens of Richmond embrace that other fall favorite, Halloween.

Nearly every culture has some tradition of donning masks and costumes, and Virginia’s own affinity for adornment stitches generations and cultures together with a shared love for trying on different personas. Sponsored by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, this year’s Virginia Folklife Area theme is “Masquerade,” where all attendees can explore the costuming traditions of yesterday and today.

“Masquerade is not just pleasurable, it carries the potential to articulate a community’s deep-running values, celebrate sacred rituals, and tear down old power structures while constructing the new,” state folklorist Jon Lohman said. “These traditions helped anchor cultures as they traveled to our region—preserving what they knew while adjusting to a new land.”

Discover the ceremonial garb made by the region’s Cambodian masters, or Buddhist t’sam ceremonial masks made by Northern Virginia’s Mongolian community, or Carnival costumes from the mid-Atlantic’s Caribbean culture. Guests will also be able to see culture in action, with master crafters joined by traditional dancers, stilt walkers, contortionists, and other revelers.

Every costume party requires great musical accompaniment. The Virginia Folklife Stage will, as always, deliver Virginia’s finest styles, like bluegrass, old time, gospel, and blues, in addition to a new infusion of jazz and swing. This year, the exploration goes even deeper, with performances from lesser-known Virginia-based communities that originated from the Middle East and Vietnam.

“Our version of masquerade is less about what we hide, and more what we reveal about who we are and what it means to be a Virginian,” Lohman said.

The 2018 Virginia Folklife Area welcomes the following performers and material culture demonstrators:


Material Culture Demonstrators

The Virginia Folklife Program, a public program of Virginia Humanities, is the state center for the documentation, presentation, and support of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage.                       

The Richmond Folk Festival is produced by Venture Richmond Events, LLC in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA). Other producing partners include the City of Richmond, Virginia Humanities, and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.