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Library of Virginia's 'Celebration of Virginia Folklife' aims to 'get people to participate'

Don't miss performances, displays and activities from 12 - 4 p.m.
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Posted at 10:33 PM, Jul 07, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Library of Virginia is hosting "A Celebration of Virginia Folklife" this Friday and Saturday to highlight Virginia's old and new musical traditions.

Greg Kimball, the library's director of public services and outreach, said the event is the largest partnership between the 200-year-old institution and the Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities.

“Folk culture or folkways are really just the things that people create in their communities, whether that's dance or food or music," Kimball explained.

Antoinette Essa and Library of Virginia Director of Public Services and Outreach Greg Kimball
Antoinette Essa and Library of Virginia Director of Public Services and Outreach Greg Kimball

The meshing of the old and new to keep these traditions alive in communities is an important collaboration with the Virginia Folklife Program.

"They have a program where they have an apprenticeship, so you have a master artist who teaches somebody in that community to do the craft that they do," Kimball said. "So there's all kinds of different crafts and other things that people are doing. Music is probably one of the ones that we know the most about."

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The celebration kicked off Friday evening with more to come this weekend.

"Saturday is more of an open event where we're going to have people who make a simple one-stringed instrument," Kimball said. "You can make a poster, so some kids activities."

The event will feature a variety of instruments from ukuleles to banjos and guitars to the accordion.

"I think one of the things in our culture is we absorb culture a lot, but we often don't participate in it," Kimball said. "And I think a lot of what this is about is to get people to participate, to learn to play instruments and contribute to that folk culture that still exists."

There are performances, including a banjo–fiddle duo, the Richmond Shape Note, traditional sacred singing, and Kadencia.

"This is Afro-Caribbean music from Puerto Rico. Although it's a Richmond-based band, and it's very exciting, they play couple styles called Bomba and Plena music," Kimball said.

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The Celebration of Virginia Folklife is a part of the Library's 200th anniversary, celebrating traditions in the state's oldest institution dedicated to the preservation of Virginia's history and culture.

“And one thing people a lot of people don't know is that we also have free parking under the building, which is very important in downtown Richmond,” Kimball said.

The "Celebration of Virginia Folklife" continues Saturday from 12-4 p.m. at the Library of Virginia. Click here for a list of performers.

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