The Virginia Folklife Area at this year’s Richmond Folk Festival was a resounding success! Across the three days of the festival, October 7–9, a record-breaking 230,000 people visited the festival site, centered on Brown’s Island. For the first year, the Virginia Folklife Area was organized not only by the Virginia Folklife Program, but in collaboration with the Center for Cultural Vibrancy (CCV), the non-profit founded by previous state folklorist Jon Lohman. Visitors could meet luthiers in a large instrument making workshop tent, Mark Cline and Sushmita Mazumdar enlivened an outdoor photo exhibit honoring twenty years of the Apprenticeship Program, and linger to enjoy performances on the CCV stage. There were also two chances to see The Legendary Ingramettes perform in honor of their recent National Heritage Fellowship award. Enjoy a selection of highlights below, and browse our Flickr album and YouTube channel for more festival content.
Bomba Showcase: Tata Cepeda & Semilla Cultural
The Bomba Showcase set, presented by the Virginia Folklife Program on the CCV stage, was organized by Semilla Cultural, a non-profit dedicated to Puerto Rican culture in Fredericksburg. Its founding director, Isha M Renta Lopez, performed with her mentor artist, Tata Cepeda. Cepeda travelled from San Juan for the performance, joined by drummers Ian Caleb Maldonado Carmona and Emanuel Martinez Pagán. Reflecting on the festival, and the opportunity to host Tata in Fredericksburg for a free bomba workshop, Isha shared: ““We are also extremely thankful for the opportunity to perform with such a legend. This has marked us forever. I have no words to express my happiness and pride for the weekend events. The organization was excellent, the crowd was amazing and the workshop was a total success.”
Instrument Makers Workshop
Drawing from artists from its Apprenticeship Program—past and present—the Virginia Folklife Program presented an instrument makers workshop. Twelve luthiers recreated their workshop benches under one tent, inviting festival-goers to ask questions or listen to demonstrations on the hour.
A Few Favorite Photos
Instrument Makers Jam
Most of the luthiers under our tent are also amazing musicians, and they took the opportunity to share some songs together on the CCV stage. Sen. Tim Kaine even joined in with Michael Brewer, Lisa Ring, Mac Traynham and Spencer Strickland on a few tunes. Also featured were the Burnett Sisters with Chris Testerman, Dr. Dena Jennings playing her gourd banjo and KT Vandyke, his wife Toni Doman and Mac Traynham on fiddle. Take a look at the highlights below.
Save the dates for the 2023 Richmond Folk Festival: October 13-15, 2023! The Virginia Folklife Area will likely have a regional focus on Bristol this coming year, as part of our work with Central Appalachia Living Traditions (a program of Mid Atlantic Arts).