The 2023 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, a two-week festival on the National Mall, will focus on the Ozarks in 2023.
The festival runs June 28 - July 4th and July 6 - July 9. and the festival is sponsoring Ozarks-based musicians, artists, cooks and performers and others to participate in the festival to share in the unique Ozark culture - plus the Smithsonian pays travel, lodging, food, and more for participants who are selected!
Presentation spaces will include:
- A formal music and dance venue with stage and dance floor for musical, dance, and storytelling performances and workshops
- Cooking and food demonstration areas
- Craft and occupation demonstration areas
- A narrative stage for thematic discussions and panels
- A family area with activities geared toward younger visitors
Key themes at this year's Folklife Festival include:
Celebrations and Gatherings
Ozarkers create community across sacred and secular spaces by coming together in times of joy and in times of pain. Food is a constant companion, whether front and center at a pie supper or on the sideboard of a weekly music jam. This fellowship hones baking techniques and song repertories, passing on traditional knowledge and making room for innovation.
Possible topics: seasonal events, homecomings and homegoings, religious and spiritual practices, foodways, pie suppers, quilting circles.
Stories, Sounds, and Show Business
Storytelling and music are vital tools in the Ozarks for both everyday interactions and more cyclical celebrations and gatherings. Music showcases, festivals, and theme parks play a large role in presenting a picture of Ozarks culture to locals and outsiders. The region is replete with virtuosic musicians who come to workshop their talents while maintaining outsized influence on the national music scene. These spaces create synergistic spaces where traditional artists can convene, share their practice, and make a living from their art form.
Possible topics: house parties and jam sessions, the legacy of the Ozark Jubilee and underground “show caves,” the contemporary showcases of Branson and Silver Dollar City, storytelling (traditional and contemporary).
Migrations, Movements, and Pathways
The Ozarks is home to a palimpsest of pathways that build on each other, from the mountain bike trails that follow the old gravel tracks of abandoned railways to the legendary Route 66 and Natchitoches Trace that connect historic and present-day communities. It is a place that has been characterized by the movement of peoples in and out of the region since First Nations like the Osage and Quapaw moved through seasonally between the forest and plains. This continuous zone of confluence is home to diverse communities of resettled refugees and new immigrants from around the globe.
Possible topics: highways, railroads, tourism corridors (e.g., Route 66), waterways, hiking trails, “Trail of Tears,” Osage Trace, ancestral vs. adopted homelands, transplanted traditions of new immigrant groups.
Connections to Land and Place
The Ozarks’ evocative landscape contains karst topography such as caves and ridges, connected by a vast system of rivers and lakes. These elevations support unique medicinal plants and foraged finds such as the black walnut and morel mushroom. Success in this growing space is often hard won, but lessons in plant knowledge create community and directly support an array of material culture and foodways.
Possible topics: gardening, herbalism, foraging, gig fishing and making, johnboats, lakes, rivers and streams, vernacular architecture, outdoor recreational activities, mountain biking, and other sports.
Selected candidates should be able to:
- Attend the Festival June 28 to July 9, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
- Provide hands-on learning opportunities for visitors of all ages (e.g. workshops, discussions, activities, performances, or demonstrations)
- Present cultural expressions in accessible and interactive ways (i.e. without screens or PowerPoint presentations)
- Represent diverse geographical, gender, or ethnic identities
- Present on multiple areas of expertise
Please note that the Festival is held outside on the National Mall. Participants must be able to withstand the outdoor summer climate of D.C. for eight hours at a time, with temperatures often reaching or exceeding ninety degrees. All participants have access to the Festival’s participant hospitality tent, where they can hydrate and rest during breaks.
More information about how to apply to participate in the festival can be found here: https://festival.si.edu/2023/ozarks/participate