Published July 14, 2023

Last weekend, we presented a two-day “Celebration of Virginia Folklife” on July 7 and 8, 2023 at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, as part of the Library’s year-long 200th anniversary celebration.

The festivities kicked off Friday evening with a reception, film screening, and stage program honoring our 2022–23 Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship teams, with over 100 people in attendance.

On Saturday, nearly 300 folks came out for an afternoon featuring collection displays and family activities highlighting old and new Virginia musical traditions. Performances included old-time (Jared Boyd on banjo with Ben Miller on fiddle), shape-note singing (Richmond Shape Note Singers), and Puerto Rican plena (Kadencia, feat. Maurice Sanabria, in our just-announced apprenticeship cohort), and more.

Join us in Roanoke at the Taubman Museum of Art on Thursday, August 17, for our second apprenticeship celebration and film screening—or scroll down to watch our eight shorts on YouTube.

“The apprenticeship has not only helped me to train the next generation of eel pot makers (important to the future of our art), but more importantly, it has helped me to train a new generation of teachers.”

D. Brad Hatch, Patawomeck eel pot maker
D. Brad Hatch trained fellow Patawomeck tribal members David Onks IV and Reagan Andersen to weave eel pots in Fredericksburg. Photo by Nina Wilder/Virginia Humanities

“Thank you for hosting Tata and her team and allowing the local community to learn from her, and for flying me to Puerto Rico. We created unmeasurable memories. I learned so much from Tata and her team, and I know this is the beginning of many more great things.”

Isha M. Renta López, bomba dance apprentice
Isha M Renta López trained with one of the leaders in bomba dance, Margarita Tata Cepeda of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Nina Wilder/Virginia Humanities

Watch the Apprenticeship Films

Bomba dance

Margarita Tata Cepeda (San Juan) with apprentice Isha M Renta López (Fredericksburg)

Patawomeck Eel Pots

D. Brad Hatch with apprentices Reagan Andersen and David Onks IV (White Oak)

Blues Dancing

Joshua Purnell with apprentice Tom Norris and the Tidewater Blues dance community (Norfolk)

Gullah-Geechee Style Gospel

Bernadette “B.J.” Lark with apprentice Alanjha Harris (Roanoke) 

Appalachian Ballad Singing

Elizabeth LaPrelle (Smyth Co.) with apprentice Elsa Howell (Roanoke)

Women in Old-Time Fiddling

Betty Vornbrok (Carroll Co.) with apprentice Sharon Andreucci (Galax)

Violin Making and Repair

Daniel Smith (Lynchburg) with apprentice Richard Maxham (Alexandria)

Persian Tar

Kazem Davoudian (Sterling) with apprentice Alexander Sabet (Washington, DC)

Learning Experience

Virginia History in Song

What can songs teach us about history?