There’s festive interweaving of culture and learning, storytelling and artful performance, when gatherings connect onlookers to tradition. So it was at the Oro Valley Meet Yourself Folklife Festival (OVMY), held March 21 and 22 at the Oro Valley Marketplace, as a TMY-styled framework helped this city explore its living heritage.
The festival captured Oro Valley vibrancy, presenting cultural traditions of resident tradition bearers, food artists as well as performers from community ethnic and folklife groups. While the Performance stage and Folklife Area showcased deeply cherished traditions of the area, the Folk Arts and Food booths reflected the traditional arts and cuisines of local artisans and restaurants. A Community Matters area documented organizations, services and businesses unique to Oro Valley, while the Western Passport Center distributed a passport — which provided guided activity in “what I learned-what I saw-what was cool” experiences for both children and adult attendees.
“It’s one thing to look at an artifact of culture or watch someone else use it — be it a crocheted prayer shawl, a loaf of Challah bread, or a ukelele,” says Kimi Eisele, who programmed the Oro Valley Folklife pavilion and the Festival’s performances. “It’s another thing entirely to have someone who uses that artifact or interacts with it everyday or actually creates it transmit some of their knowledge about that artifact to you in person. The festival opens up pathways for each of us to learn something about someone else’s tradition or culture or everyday practice. These are the pathways that pass along not only knowledge, but also joy and understanding and appreciation for those who might be different from us.”
Festivals allow us to be playful and experiment. They’re fun ways for a community to stimulate curiosity, conversation and “meet yourself.”
- More about global cultural research and community programs via Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage: http://www.folklife.si.edu/
- The model for educational, cultural passports: Passport to the Silk Road: https://www.festival.si.edu/past_festivals/silk_road/passport.pdf
- Oro Valley historic preservation and cultural resources: http://www.orovalleyaz.gov/parksandrec/historic-preservation-and-cultural-resources