Small FOLK

IMAGE: The Takoma Park Gazebo, pictured here during the 2013 Takoma Park Street Festival, will be the Takoma FOLK stage. Photo by Bill Brown.


AUG 3—When the annual Takoma Park Folk Festival was cancelled in July – only three months short of the festival date – local groups and individuals quickly put together a proposal for a smaller version of the popular event. Two weeks following the cancellation announcement they presented a rough plan to the Takoma Park city council, asking for funding and for police and public works department support.

The city council approved the proposal.

The one time event is called Takoma FOLK, the organizers announced Aug. 3. The Takoma Park Gazebo will serve as the event’s stage, Sept 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Carroll Avenue in front of the gazebo will be closed to traffic and the street will be covered with a sun tent.


Takoma FOLK will include children’s activities such as this face-painting at the 2013 Takoma Park Folk Festival.

The event will have one stage, not the six stages the Folk Festival usually features. Seven of the 25 bands signed up for the cancelled festival are scheduled for the Takoma FOLK festival. See schedule below.

For children and the young at heart there will be corn hole games, hula hoops, balloons, face painting and the like.

There will be four additional hours of folk music 5 – 9 p.m. at the Takoma Park Community Center, hosted by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. That schedule is pending.

It's not the folk festival without the hula-hoop lady!

Will the hula-hoop lady, pictured at the 2014 Takoma Park Folk Festival, show for Takoma FOLK?

The city budget already had $15,000 earmarked for the 2016 folk festival. The council and city manager redirected $7500 of those funds to the Takoma FOLK event. $5000 was set aside for the 2017 folk festival, which will be the event’s 40th anniversary.

Among the estimated costs presented to the city are small payments for musicians ($1500) and labor ($500). Sound systems and operation will take up almost half of the $7500. The rest is for a permit, promotion, chairs, children’s activities and so forth.

The first to approach the city council about the folk festival’s cancellation was David Eisner, Folk Festival music coordinator and owner of the House of Musical Tradition in Old Takoma. Eisner addressed the council at their July 6 meeting. He implored the council to “keep this festival going”

He reminded the council that the festival, which he called “a landmark event” “was founded by the city’s iconic activist mayor Sammie Abbott. Eisner was a co-founder, he noted.

Photo by Bill Brown

2013 Takoma Park Folk Festival. Photo by Bill Brown.

By the following week Laura Barclay, Old Takoma Business Association director, had a proposal – hold a smaller festival, locate it in Old Takoma and ask the city for assistance. Eisner volunteered to schedule the bands.

It would keep the Folk Festival tradition alive, she told the city council July 13. It would provide an opportunity to sign up volunteers for the 2017 Folk Festival to ensure its survival.

It would also be a boon to the Old Takoma business district, she said, even if it just attracted a fraction of the thousands who usually attend the Folk Festival. The Aug. 3 OTBA announcement urges attendees to grab a bite at local businesses or from “pop-up” stands offering food and drink from Republic restaurant, La Mano Coffee Bar and the Old Town Food Co. food truck..

Takoma FOLK is presented by the Old Takoma Business Association and Main Street Takoma in coordination with the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. and with assistance from the City of Takoma Park, the Takoma Park Folk Festival and the House of Musical Traditions.

The 2016 Folk Festival was canceled, says the announcement on their website, due to lack of volunteers, especially for key positions such as Festival Chair. The Takoma Park Folk Festival Committee asks people interested in volunteering to contact

The scheduled bands are:

10:00am: The Devils Tailors
11:00am: Flo Anito
12noon: Tom Prasada Rao (tent)
1:00pm: Ampersand String Band
2:00pm: Letitia vanSant
3:00pm: Mark Taiko
4:00pm: ilyAimy

The Gazebo is on Carroll Avenue between Westmoreland Avenue and Victory Towers, 7051 Carroll Avenue. The Takoma Park Community Center is at 7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park.


About the Author

Bill Brown
Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.

4 Comments on "Small FOLK"

  1. Sue Katz Miller | August 5, 2016 at 10:01 am |

    The Folk Festival charges for booths/vendors, and then gives a portion of proceeds to local non-profits (boy scouts, friends of Sligo Creek). I’ve never understood this, as the festival itself is a non-profit. Funds raised by the festival should go back into the festival, perhaps in part to pay someone to take on the complex task of running the festival. Worth a try?

  2. And to clarify a few notes in Bill’s excellent article. When Takoma Park Folk Festival started I was one of many founders, not a co-founder. Some of the originals, if memory is correct, were (are) David Sawyer, Jesse Winch, Saul Schniederman. Also, this event is a “place marker ” event for this year. Hopefully, reorganization occurs and we have a fresh start for 2017. This is not an attempt for OTBA to co- op or take over the TPFF. When we heard that the TPFF 2016 was cancelled, almost universally the response was…Nooooo! So this is what we thought we could do to save the event. I’d love to hear some positive memories from Festivals Past!

  3. The Sam Abbott Citizens Center, Takoma Park’s former city auditorium, has been refurbished as a community theater and gallery. Takoma Park’s electorate and its elected officials are known for their liberal and left-of-liberal values, which have led to the enactment of several municipal laws. For instance, Takoma Park allows non-U.S.-citizen residents to vote in its own municipal elections , and has lowered their voting age to 16.

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