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Folklife Festival kicks off on the National Mall

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The green space between Smithsonian museums gained more color when the 46th annual Folklife Festival kicked off Wednesday morning.

For the next two weeks, artists and performers will pack the lawn as visitors explore crafts, demonstrations and hands-on activities.

Every year, the festival draws people from around the country to celebrate national traditions. This summer, the festival follows three themes: Campus and Community, Citified, and Creativity and Crisis.

Certain days conclude with free concerts. Wednesday wrapped up with performances by George Clinton and Ellie Mannette.

“Every day is different,” Smithsonian spokeswoman Amy Kehs said.

The Campus and Community program celebrates the 150th anniversary of public and land-grant universities, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Visitors can take “mini-university” classes on subjects from sustainable energy to entomology. The area also features a mock dinosaur dig by Montana State University, Ms. Kehs said.

Creativity and Crisis focuses on the 25th anniversary of The AIDS Memorial Quilt. More than 100 designers, musicians and activists will expand on artistic responses to grief caused by AIDS. At any given time, 300 of the 48,000 panels of the quilt will be on display. Over the course of the festival, about 900 will make an appearance, Ms. Kehs said.

Presented in collaboration with the Anacostia Community Museum, the Citified program centers on creativity and identity in Southeast D.C. Mural artists, go-go bands, comedians and other performers bring some local culture to the National Mall. On July 7, it will pay tribute to Chuck Brown, “Godfather of Go-Go,” hosting discussions with his band members, performances, and narrative stage sessions.

About one million people are expected to attend the festival this week and next, Ms. Kehs said.

This summer's event runs 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, July 1, and again Wednesday, July 4 through Friday, July 8.

A map and full schedule of the festival are available at

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