Takoma Park Folk Festival draws crowds despite heat

Sept. 16, 2008, midnight | By Jeremy Gradwohl | 12 years, 1 month ago

Community gathers for music, dancing, local crafts

Masses of locals attended the 31st annual Takoma Park Folk Festival on Sunday. The festival featured local musicians and dancers as well as stands by local organizations and craftspeople. The festival took place at Takoma Park Middle School in Silver Spring and went from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from the festival will be given to local groups, including the Blair After-Prom Committee.

Kevin Adler, chairman of the folk festival, was impressed with the turnout at the festival in spite of the heat. "It's overwhelmingly hot," Adler said. "We have a good crowd considering the inescapable heat." Sunday was sunny with a high of 92 degrees, according to Accuweather.

Stages around the school's campus featured local artists playing for free. Each stage had individual sponsors, like Whole Foods, PEPCO and The Washington Post. The local acts ranged greatly, from afro-funk group Chopteeth to Irish river dancing, performed inside the school. Adler was very pleased with the lineup this year. "These are great musicians here that are playing for free," Adler said. "The music is world-class."

Tables and booths are scattered around three sides of the school. Sophomore Sofia Read worked at a stand during the folk festival, selling cookies for Grassroots Soccer, an organization that uses soccer to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS in Africa. "We've done pretty well today," Read said. "The festival has been great this year."

The festival's goal was to be more environmentally-friendly this year. Instead of water bottles, folk festival volunteers used cups and jugs of water. In addition to free shuttle buses to the Takoma Park Metro station and Montgomery College-Takoma, bike racks were added around the parking lot of the middle school. "We've gone greener and we're very proud," Adler said. "It's a big deal to us."

Adler tried to plan the folk festival with a sense of community. "This festival is on a community scale," Adler said. "It shows the kind of cultural and artistic talent that we're blessed with in Takoma Park." Of the estimated 340 volunteers, Adler noted that 250 live in Takoma Park or Silver Spring.

The festival featured a wide variety of food from 19 vendors which were stationed in the school's parking lot. Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins sponsored a picnic area. Junior Alex Denton says that the food is a major reason why he goes to the festival. "The food here is good every year," Denton said. "I really like the chicken kabob."

Junior Lawrence Weisman attends the festival each year and enjoys it. "It's a great way to hang out with your friends on a Sunday," Weisman said. "You just see everybody you know up here." Weisman said that although it was hot, it was a worthwhile experience.

Full-blown arguments between residents broke out at the Takoma Park Republicans booth. Deanna Stewart, a member of the Republican Central Committee in Takoma's district, was stationed at the booth for part of the day and acknowledged that Takoma Park is overwhelmingly liberal. "You have to stand up for what you believe," Stewart said. "Regardless of whether you agree, being aggressive and rude is disrespectful." Steve Hudson, the Republican candidate for congressman running against incumbent Chris Van Hollen, was at the table answering questions. "We're working really hard to win the district," said Hudson. "As long as you put in the hard work, you will prevail."

Jeremy Gradwohl. Jeremy is a good, upstanding citizen. He likes the city of Takoma Park, baseball, good music and the Orioles back in the day when they had Cal Ripken Jr. Nature also plays a big part in his life. More »

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