The Blue Moon
KAC Home Publications

  VOL. 10  NO. 5

September/October 2003
In This Issue
bullet Folklife Festival Returns
bullet On the National Front
bullet Arts Council News
bullet The Arts in Education
bullet Craft Marketing News
bullet Focus on Folklife
bullet Around Kentucky
bullet Resources and Reports
bullet START News Update
bullet Message From the Director
bullet Quotable Quote
bullet Hot Dates

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The BlueMoon is published bi-monthly by the Kentucky Arts Council. Please send comments, questions and information to The Blue Moon, Kentucky Arts Council, Old Capital Annex, 300 West Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601-1980 or call 502/564-3757V/TDD Toll Free: 1-888-833-2787

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Photo: J. D. Crowe
On Saturday night, bluegrass artists will pay tribute to the legendary J.D. Crowe, then J.D. and the New South will take the Old Capitol Stage.

The Kentucky Folklife Festival is back--and better then ever
The Kentucky Folklife Festival returns this September, with new improvements and old favorites! The festival, which will take place in downtown Frankfort, September 25, 26 and 27, has become the state's largest celebration of the traditional cultures of Kentucky, both new and old. Citizens from across the state, including up to 10,000 school children, have grown to look forward to this fall showcase of the rich cultural heritage of the commonwealth.

This year's festival will include both familiar and new faces, seven stages, multiple jamming areas, improvements to the festival site, and exciting new components such as the Community Crossroads and hands-on workshops. According to folklife specialist Brent Bjorkman, "This year we are putting on a festival that you just don't want to miss. Our hope is that visitors and demonstrators alike will come away from the festival with a better understanding of themselves, their neighbors, and the diverse and creative place that we all call home: Kentucky. Of course we also hope everyone will have fun."

As it has been since it began in 1997, the center of the Kentucky Folklife Festival will be the grounds of the Old State Capitol. This year the festival site will spread into downtown Frankfort, enabling Kentuckians to experience the heart of their capital city. The festival will take over St. Clair Mall and Broadway Street for the three-day event, and will once again include the banks of the Kentucky River. A full array of Kentucky traditions will fill every corner of the festival site.

On St. Clair Mall visitors will find skilled woodcarvers and building artists, a stage on which a diverse range of dance traditions will be showcased, and where the Thursday night concert will take place. The restaurants that line St. Clair will provide one of several opportunities to enjoy Kentucky foods.

Broadway Street, which runs through downtown Frankfort, will be the site of recreational folklife of the YMCA such as basketball, and educational activities provided by the Kentucky Derby Museum. There will also be demonstrations of folklife from along Highway 31W, the Dixie Highway, a theme being highlighted for the second festival year. Features will include caving traditions from the Mammoth Cave area, the story of the once thriving African American Shake Rag community established in Bowling Green in the late nineteenth century and artists representing the basketmaking traditions of south central Kentucky.

Basketmaking is one of the traditions from along the Dixie Highway that will be highlighted. The festival will provide a chance for visitors to observe the traditional art of basketmaking close up, through demonstrations by several of the finest practitioners of this form of Kentucky folk culture. Representatives from the Mammoth Cave Basketmakers Guild (MCBG), which was formed in the spring of 2002, will be on hand to demonstrate their skills. The MCBG is a group of central Kentucky folk artists who have come together in order to better promote, through education and marketing, the time-honored tradition of basketmaking unique to south central Kentucky.

Basketmakers present at the festival will include Charlene and Charles Long. The Longs will demonstrate the weaving techniques used in the construction of their willow and honeysuckle creations. Charlene Long is currently a part of the Kentucky Folklife Program's Apprenticeship program, learning the white oak basket tradition from master basketmaker Leona Waddell who will also demonstrate her skills at this year's festival. Members of the Childress family carrying on the basketmaking tradition will be at the festival as well.

Visitors can follow Broadway down to the Kentucky River where they will find examples of occupational and recreational folklife, tents devoted to family folklore and the work of community scholars across the state, and a re-creation of the scene of a bluegrass festival. At the riverfront visitors will learn more about the folklife of farming, the river, and stonewall masonry and will be able to observe the 2003 Kentucky Rolly Hole Marble Championship, which will take place on site. Guided tours of the history of the area will be an added feature to the boat rides that have been a mainstay of past festivals.

Photo: Storyteller Nana Yaa

Storyteller Nana Yaa gets her audience involved with her stories

Back downtown on the grounds of the Old State Capitol, visitors will find an exciting new component, the Community Crossroads. What do the Latino, East Indian, Appalachian and Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities have in common? These questions and more will be answered on the Old Capitol grounds, where visitors to the festival will encounter members of these folk groups side-by-side and learn about elements of their identity such as dance, music and storytelling and the artistic expression of everyday life in their communities. Demonstrators will present a re-creation of a typical room in a traditional household and provide a chance for visitors to further explore that particular culture's recreation, visual arts and family traditions.

Latino art forms in the Community Crossroads area will include Central American alfombras (sawdust carpets) created by a community in Shelbyville, dominoes as a form of recreation among Cuban communities, and Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) traditions. There will also be demonstrations and instruction on Salsa, Merengue and Cha-Cha.

Photo: Yoga Demonstration

Ravi Sahasrabudhe teaches yoga poses to school children at the Kentucky Folklife Festival.

Members of a Louisville East Indian community will share demonstrations of mehendi (painting complex patterns on the skin with henna) and rangoli (the traditional art of decorating floors with patterns using colored powder) in addition to examples of North and South Indian dance. Again this year, Louisville Hindu Temple yoga club members will guide visitors through a series of yoga poses and movements.

While we most often associate "community" with ethnicity, race and religion, community is often defined in large part by language and culture. Kentuckians who are deaf or hard of hearing provide an example of how community can be created among people with shared language, culture and life experience that is not based on such things as ethnicity. The Community Crossroads will spotlight the history of deaf communities and schools in Kentucky and will feature American Sign Language activities, technological innovations used in deaf households, and deaf storytellers and artists.

Members of the Carcassonne Community Center in Letcher County come together frequently for activities such as square dances and quilting bees, and they will come together at the Community Crossroads. This year, the Smithsonian's American Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. highlighted Appalachian folklife and featured members of the Carcassonne Community Center. The Kentucky Folklife Festival is proud to welcome them back home to share their traditions with festival visitors.

The Old Capitol lawn will also be the place to find representatives of Kentucky's diverse foodways traditions at this year's festival. Visitors will have the chance to experience a re-created Mexican restaurant and market, a Frankfort burgoo tradition that has simmered at many a political event, along with the returning festival favorite, Owensboro's St. Mary Magdalene Barbecue and other delicious examples of Kentucky foodways.

Music from multiple traditions and regions will be heard at the festival, both night and day. Visitors will have the chance to watch and listen to performers on seven stages, participate in the music through workshops and jamming sessions, and gain an understanding of various musical traditions as folklorists interview musicians on narrative stages. According to folklife specialist Brent Bjorkman, "Music plays such an important role in all of our lives. When we learn about the music of our neighbors, we also learn about their values, feelings and the many things we have in common."

The music at this year's festival will range from the lined out hymns of the Indian Bottom Association of Old Regular Baptists from Blackey in Letcher County to the Appalachian-themed but contemporary sounds of festival favorite Zoe Speaks, a duo made up of Carla Gover and Mitch Barrett. Other festival favorites returning this year include National Heritage Award winner Eddie Pennington and Bowling Green's John Edmonds of John Edmonds and the Gospel Truth.

Dance will be a major theme of this year's festival. Throughout the three-day event there will be opportunities to learn about dance from many cultural groups here in Kentucky. For instance, Latin dances like Salsa, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Merengue and Cumbia, and Appalachian dances such as Contra dance, English dance and Square dance will be demonstrated and practiced. Visitors will be encouraged to attend workshops on Friday afternoon to learn Latino, East Indian and Appalachian dance traditions. The Friday night dance party, A Chance to Dance, will provide an opportunity for everyone to try out some new steps.

Another major theme at this year's festival will be bluegrass. Musical artists will include the Hays Brothers (Bowling Green), Arthur Hatfield and Buck Creek (Glasgow), Homer Ledford and Cabin Creek (Winchester) and the Reynolds Family Band (Elizabethtown).

Bluegrass in the Bluegrass will be Saturday's theme, and visitors will be able to enjoy participatory workshops along with performances. Workshops will include a vocal workshop with Dale Ann Bradley and Coon Creek, a vocal and mandolin workshop with Don Rigsby, and a banjo-playing workshop with J.D. Crowe. The festival will conclude on Saturday night with Bluegrass in the Bluegrass, a tribute to bluegrass great J.D. Crowe. The lineup will include bluegrass greats Don Rigsby, Dale Ann Bradley and Coon Creek, and of course J.D. Crowe and the New South. Whether you are a lifetime fan of bluegrass or just interested in learning what all the fuss is about, you are sure to enjoy this taste of bluegrass.

For more information about the Kentucky Folklife Festival, visit or call 502-564-1792. The festival is a program of the Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Arts Council , agencies of the Education, Arts and Humanities Cabinet and produced by the Kentucky Folklife Program to document, conserve and promote the folk traditions of Kentucky. There is no general admission charge, but there are fees for festival activities such as the boat rides. Donations are accepted and appreciated.