This year’s annual Northwest Folklife Festival will celebrate the Mexican-American Chicanx communities from around the Pacific Northwest. The Folklife Festival is a four day event, beginning Friday, May 25 and ending Monday, May 28. It is a weekend of music, art, food, dance and storytelling.
Each year a cultural focus is chosen by a committee of over 100 members from all different backgrounds who give their input of what they want to showcase. Folklife is a festival for the community, run by community members of all ages. It is a donation-based festival, sponsored by the community. While it’s a pay-what-you-can event, the suggested donation is $10 per day to keep the festival running.
At this year’s festival, attendees will have the opportunity to experience and interact with Mexican American Chicanx practices and traditions in a variety of ways. Attendees can learn the art of tacos with the owner of Taco Chukis, watch traditional Mexican folkloric dance and view a screening of “Latinos: The Changing Face of Washington.”
This year’s Folklife Festival will showcase a wide variety of theatrical performances, cuisine demonstrations, music and dance performances.
Elijah Dhavvan, who sits on the Board of Directors, says Folklife has two different cultural and community missions. The first is to share the stories of the community. Preserving the cultural communities present in the Pacific Northwest is part of the festival mission.
“A lot of cultures are being displaced from the core of Seattle and as they get more displaced, they lose touch with the general populous, so there aren’t as many people recognizing how beautiful their culture is, and also with each other,” Dhavvan said.
Dhavvan said the second mission is that it maintains its social and communal aspect of the festival and organization. Anyone and everyone is welcome.
Seattle University alumni and Folklife communications coordinator April Jingco says that as an organization, Folklife aims to celebrate every culture that can be found in the Pacific Northwest at the festival.
“To me, Folklife is the passing on of culture, arts, and tradition from generation to generation,” Jingco said. “You get to experience these cultures that you’re not normally exposed to and the beautiful thing about that is that you come to one place to learn, to grow, and to not only celebrate your own culture, and your own likes and interests, but also learn about something new”.
Folklife thrives on the efforts of the community. From artists, donors, to attendees and buskers, all of those involved are responsible for the success of the festival. Volunteering his time and artistic expression, artist Tomo Nakayama will be playing acoustic guitar, singing, and fingerpicking at the Folklife Cafe, on Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
Influenced by 1960s folk sounds, this is Nakayama’s seventh year at Folklife, in the past playing with a combination of collaborative musical groups, and solo. Nakayama has played at a variety of music festivals including Bumbershoot, Sasquatch, South by Southwest and more.
“It’s more about community and gathering. Getting to know each other’s cultural roots. It’s less commercially motivated. I think that’s really important these days,” Nakayama said.
There aren’t many other festivals in the Pacific Northwest that prioritize community sponsorship and community and involvement like Folklife.
“I’m really proud of the people, particularly in the Mexican Chicana and Chicano community, that have already told me that they feel that they are more connected with their culture and the resources that support their culture because of the activities at Folklife,” Dhavvan said.
The tradition of Folklife is to celebrate communities of people from a variety of backgrounds. Attendees can dance, eat, sing and learn more about the Chicanx traditions in the greater Seattle area.
The editor may be reached at