Great fun, great people and a great opportunity

Volunteers are needed for the 45th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  This year’s Festival will be held outdoors on the National Mall, Thursday, June 30, through Monday, July 4, and Thursday, July 7, through Monday, July 11, 2011. Produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Festival is a living exhibition of traditional culture featuring musicians, craftspeople, storytellers, cooks, occupational specialists, and more.

Volunteers are critical to the success of the Festival and work closely with Smithsonian staff, as well as with Festival participants of various backgrounds. Past volunteers say they keep coming back to the Festival year after year because it offers “great fun, great people, and lots to learn.” Some volunteers have returned for as many as 33 years! Check out this year’s programs:

Colombia: The Nature of Culture

Colombia: The Nature of Culture

Colombia leads the world in its number of bird species. It has the second highest number of varieties of amphibians and plants. And it is third in its diversity of reptiles. Because of its biological and environmental diversity, Colombia is home to some of the world’s most distinctive cultures and traditions. This year’s Festival program explores the confluence of nature and culture in six major regional ecosystems and the country’s three largest urban areas—Bogotá, Cali, and Medellín.

The Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Promoting World Peace and Friendship

The Peace Corps (J.F.K.'s Bold Legacy) ©Licensed by Norman Rockwell Licensing Company, Niles, IL

The Peace Corps (J.F.K.'s Bold Legacy) ©Licensed by Norman Rockwell Licensing Company, Niles, IL

Since 1961, over 200,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in 139 countries worldwide. Their fields of service include agriculture, business development, community development, education, environment, health, and youth development. The Festival program brings together Peace Corps volunteers—both past and present—with approximately one hundred of the people with whom they have served from more than a dozen countries.

Rhythm and Blues: Tell It Like It Is

Rhythm and blues—a category of music that encompasses jump blues, soul, funk, and more contemporary styles—is recognized throughout the world as one of the most identifiably American forms of popular music. The Festival program explores the social and cultural history integral to the development of rhythm and blues and presents not only performances, but also conversations and workshops with some of the artists, songwriters, radio personalities, and others who have worked behind the scenes to produce the music.

"Rhythm in Blues" by Lynda Lehmann

"Rhythm in Blues" by Lynda Lehmann

As a volunteer you may be asked to assist Festival participants or stage managers, sell programs, help with the audiovisual recording of performances and presentations, or lend a hand with the many administrative duties essential to the success of the Festival. If you would like to volunteer your service, please complete the Volunteer Questionnaire online and return it via e-mail as soon as possible.

Smithsonian employees who wish to volunteer need to get permission from their supervisor if they are signing up for shifts during regular business hours.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Jennifer Harris, volunteer coordinator at (202) 633-7477.

Posted: 23 May 2011
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The Torch relies on contributions from the entire Smithsonian community.