- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

The Road of Silk had become a road of dust by the time the annual Folklife Festival ended on the Mall yesterday.
Most of the mall's grass had been worn away by the feet of more than 1.3 million visitors, the most in the festival's 35-year history, said Smithsonian Institution spokeswoman Vicki Moeser.
However, the 100,000 who braved a heat wave and high security were the least to attend the festival on a Fourth of July, Miss Moeser said.
The event celebrated the cultures that flourished along the Silk Road a transcontinental trade route that linked China to the Mediterranean Sea for more than 1,500 years.
The Smithsonian brought in 375 musicians, artists, weavers, wrestlers, cooks and stone carvers speaking 25 languages from more than 20 countries to give festival-goers a taste of life along the route.
"It's been enjoyable," said Zarina Kobilova, 33, dressed in a bright multicolored headpiece and long white silk dress and sitting in the tent of her homeland, Tajikistan.
"I've been hearing about the Silk Road for 50 years," said Tom Thompson, the son of a minister who brought his wife from Baltimore especially to see and hear renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, born 47 years ago to Chinese parents in Paris.
"Every year, we go to the Folklife Festival. It's wonderful," said E. J. Delaune, 71, of Springfield, who brought his daughter, son-in-law and their two sons from Santa Barbara, Calif., to the event
"I lived amongst them," said Ron Rosenbloom, 53, of Baltimore, who had traveled in India, Syria, Africa and Middle Eastern countries for his chemical and pesticides business.
Mr. Rosenbloom, accompanied by his wife, son Israel, 12, and daughter Rafka, 9, was especially interested in the tents for crafts and arts.
The Rosenbloom family was taking a rest next to a match of the Potomac Polo Club. Polo descended from buzkashi, a rough-and-tumble horseback sport that began in Central Asia more than 2,000 years ago.
All the tents yesterday were filled with spectators, especially the tents from which sounds of foreign music emanated.
People poked their heads inside huge, igloo-shaped tents made of one-half-inch-thick felt and watched painters decorating pottery and weavers making silk.
People stood in long lines for water and sodas. They especially piled up outside the Bombay Cafe and Japanese Inn, undaunted by the prices $8 for salmon bente, $3 for a rice ball, $5 for vegetable fried rice or chicken on skewers, or $2 for a 16-ounce bottle of water.
"We are interested in seeing what was here," said Lenore Harding, 37, with her husband, Derek, 39; son Joshua, 2; and daughter Rachel, 6 weeks old.
The Hardings live in Falls Church. Mrs. Harding came to America 10 years ago from Ireland.


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