2019 Northwest Folklife Festival Highlights

We sang; we danced; we learned; we celebrated; we found our folk. This year, we brought together 750+ performances, 130+ Showcases co-curated by our Community Coordinators, 200+ vendors, and 90+ hours of participatory dance. Thank you for making the 48th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival one to remember. We’ve collected a few highlights from the festival to help you relive it with us.

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Larks & Ravens Contra Dancing

Warren’s Roadhouse was home to several Larks & Ravens Contra Dancing programs, a recent development in the contra dancing community with the goal of making it more inclusive. In contra dancing, the terms “gents & ladies” have long been used to identify dance roles. In recent years the regional contra community has grown comfortable with anyone dancing in either role, and many dancers now enjoy trading roles. However, being asked to play a gendered role can be a barrier for some people, especially for those who have been hurt because of gender identity or expression. Alternate (non-gendered) terms are now being embraced at contra dances in many parts of the country; of these terms, “larks & ravens” is the most prevalent. Lark = (the person on the) left, and raven = (the person on the) right of the couple as they end a swing. To learn more about Larks & Ravens, read this piece by Contra Dance Community Coordinator, Sherry Nevins.

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Pete Seeger Centennial Celebration

Northwest Folklife celebrated Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday with a series of events throughout the festival, including an open folk jam space to share songs and stories, and a celebration showcase highlighting the many ways that Pete Seeger has contributed to the folk community and beyond. Folk singer and activist Peter “Pete” Seeger had a great influence not only on folk music, but countless musicians and attendees of Northwest Folklife, and we were honored to celebrate his legacy at our festival this year with you.

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Circle of Indigenous Peoples Celebration

The Circle of Indigenous Peoples Celebration highlighted the beauty of Indigenous cultures and traditions. Celebrations of joy, resistance, and generational strength were present as a mix of youth, adults, and elders gathered to participate in demonstrations, dances, songs, drumming, crafts, and more. If you are interested in learning more about the Circle of Indigenous Peoples, you can do so here.

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Creative Justice and Youth in Focus Art in the A/NT Gallery

The A/NT Gallery hosted art from Creative Justice and Youth in Focus — both arts organizations in Seattle that have done tremendous work in empowering youth to share their narratives and embrace their power. Youth in Focus celebrated 25 years of providing underserved youth with the instruction, resources, and equipment they need to share their unique and personal stories through photography.

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The Hydrant Lounge and Showcase

This year’s Youth Rising Cultural Focus Committee officially launched The Hydrant at the festival with The Hydrant Lounge at the A/NT Gallery and The Hydrant Showcase at MoPOP. Our young creatives were able to showcase their ideas for upcoming projects and asked us to think about what culture means to us.

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Narrative Stage Panel: Intersection of Arts, Culture, and Heritage

The Narrative Stage hosted a diverse array of panels covering topics ranging from youth facing homelessness to a questioning of the meaning of “folk.” This year, we were lucky enough to have poster artist Monyee Chau, Kenju Waweru, Gabriel Teodros, and Poesia Mariarte join us in a conversation on the ways that many creatives find their work rooted in their cultural heritage.

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Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band

And of course, there’s no way to end the Northwest Folklife Festival the way that the legendary Clinton Fearon does it. Thank you, Clinton, for helping us close out another incredible year!

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For more photo highlights, please visit our Facebook and Instagram.

Many performances were audio recorded and posted on our SoundCloud channel. Relive your favorite performances here.

Photos courtesy of Christopher Nelson