Published September 14, 2022

For the first time, the Virginia Folklife Area at the Richmond Folk Festival is produced as a partnership between the Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities and the newly formed Center for Cultural Vibrancy, a non-profit organization founded in 2021 by former Virginia State Folklorist, Jon Lohman. This new partnership increases the resources available to present the Folklife Area, meaning visitors can expect to see many familiar performers—and more! While the Center for Cultural Vibrancy sponsors and presents the performance stage, the Virginia Folklife Program will present the craft demonstration area. The Richmond Folk Festival begins on Friday, October 7 and the Folklife Area is open on Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9 between 12 and 6pm.

Virginia Folklife Area: Crafts

Karlie Keepfer apprenticed with Chris Testerman in 2021 and will be part of the Instrument Makers Workshop. Photo by Pat Jarrett / Virginia Humanities.

2022 marks the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, which supports the continuation of living traditions by giving direct support and a public platform to artists. This year’s craft demonstration area at the Richmond Folk Festival honors this anniversary through an interactive exhibit featuring Virginia artists Mark Cline and Sushmita Mazumdar. Instrument making is one of the most consistent traditions supported by the apprenticeship program the past two decades. Accordingly, the Virginia Folklife Program will present an Instrument Makers Workshop spotlighting several current and previous apprenticeship artists. Eleven luthiers who build and repair guitars, banjos, mandolins, violins, dulcimers and more will travel from across the state to showcase the many skills required to build stringed instruments. 

In addition to their craft demonstrations, there will be an Instrument Makers Jam on the Virginia Folklife Stage (Sunday; 2:30pm) along with a special one-time-only performance uniting Tata Cepeda, one of Puerto Rico’s finest bomba dancers, with the Fredericksburg non-profit Semilla Cultural, led by Isha M Renta Lopez (Saturday, 4:15pm). Lopez and Cepeda are current Virginia Folklife Program apprenticeship artists.

Virginia Folklife Area Stage

Dr. Levine, aka Stephen Levine, and the Dreaded Blues Lady, aka Lori Strother, performed with Andrew Alli during the 2019 Richmond Folk Festival. Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities

The Center for Cultural Vibrancy will bring together numerous cross-cultural collaborations on the Virginia Folklife Stage, including Richmond Folk Festival regular Danny Knicely with Bolivian master musicians Mario and Jose Oretea and their band Ouros, and a powerful duet between Venezuelan Llanera musician Larry BellorÍn and multi-instrumentalist and social activist Joe Troop.

Performing for the first time at the Richmond Folk Festival are: Trinidadian steel drum master Josanne Francis, Richmond-based gospel quartet Ken Heath and the True Disciples, Northern Virginia-based Carnatic violin virtuoso Kamalakirin Vinjamuri, Richmond’s own acoustic blues duo Andrew Alli and Josh Small, and Scott Miller, one of Virginia’s finest songwriters and performers. 

Finally, we will honor and celebrate our beloved oyster shucking sisters who have brought us so much joy over the years, Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd. And of course, it wouldn’t be the Virginia Folklife Stage without our Sunday closing set by Richmond’s first family of gospel, the Legendary Ingramettes, who will be celebrating their recent honor of receiving the NEA’s 2022 National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor that the United States bestows on traditional artists.