Mini Fest serves hot folk in a cold month

BY NAOMI EIDE    •    PHOTOS  BY MARK PODGER

Sea chanteys, blues and tango will all share one roof during the Folklore Society of Greater Washington’s Mini Fest.

The Midwinter Festival, also known as Mini Fest, will take place on February 7, noon until 10:30 PM, and will feature folk styles that span the centuries.

The Mini Fest is a participatory Folk festival at Takoma Park Middle School. The Festival will feature dances, dance instruction, singing workshops, story telling and musical performances. Spontaneous song and dance is encouraged.

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The 2012 Mini Fest. Photo by Mark Podger.

In their eleventh season organizing the Mini Fest together, Charlie Baum and April Blum have worked with the help of others to fluidly program the day of festivities.

Blum said that while there are many performances where attendees can listen at the Mini Fest, there are also interactive song, dance and storytelling workshops.

“I always tell people that I really want this to be very participatory,” Blum said.

The Mini Fest will have programs running from noon until 6 p.m., with five classrooms of music, two rooms of dance and a room of story-telling with other performances in the cafetorium.

Following a dinner break from 6 to 7:30, the main gym will host a contra dance and the cafetorium will hold a concert until the festival’s close at 10:30.

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The 2012 Mini Fest. Photo by Mark Podger.

The Mini Fest features a variety of folk music, from Doo Wop of 1950s and 60s to shape note singing of the 19th century.

“It’s traditional music that has been passed down in the community,” Baum said.

“We’ve got everything from the really traditional to the not so traditional. You’re going to find everything from ballads to blue grass and blues.”

The Mini Fest’s dance workshops will have various styles of dance and “called” dances, participatory dances with outlined steps.

“One of the wonderful things about participatory dance, and the kind of dance that FSGW sponsors, is that these are dances that are ‘called,’ that is, they are dances with a pattern,” Blum said. “You don’t have to do your own choreography.”

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The 2012 Mini Fest. Photo by Mark Podger.

“Many young people have never danced patterned dances and they don’t appreciate how… incredibly liberating it is not to have to do your own choreography. You just exist in the moment. You step into the flow of the dance and you’re carried along in the stream of the dance,” Blum said.

The Folklore Society of Great Washington has members from the greater metropolitan Washington D.C. area and hosts events in many different locations, though the Mini Fest is always held at Takoma Park Middle School.

According to FSGW’s website, “the main purpose of the Society is to further the understanding, investigation, appreciation, and performance of the traditional music and folklore of the American people.”

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The 2012 Mini Fest. Photo by Mark Podger.

Folklore includes music, dance and story telling, becoming an all-encompassing title for FSGW, Blum said. “We really, I think, are more aware of other elements of folklore, particularly story telling, which has become a little more mainstream than it once was.”

“We try to encourage people to listen and to learn and to appreciate the tradition arts, mostly having to do with music but not exclusively,” Blum said.

You can learn more about Mini Fest and ticket pricing here.

The current schedule is listed here, though changes may occur. A correct schedule, with descriptions, will be provided at the door.

About the Author

Naomi Eide
Naomi Eide is Washington state native who spent her college years and beyond wandering the East Coast. She received her undergraduate degree from Providence College in Rhode Island where she studied history and music. Following a year working in corporate America, Naomi left her full-time job for the University of Maryland where she is currently pursuing her Masters of Journalism.