Along with the Tower of the Americas and the other storied structures that dot Hemisfair Park, UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures is in the midst of a landmark year distinguished by both San Antonio’s 300th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of HemisFair ’68. Built for the World’s Fair and originally dubbed the Texas Pavilion, the ITC wasted no time in developing one of the signature events that’s given the institution longevity.
Modeled after Washington, DC’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival — which ITC’s then exhibits director O.T. Baker attended in 1967 — the Texas Folklife Festival launched in 1972 and still proudly showcases “the Lone Star State’s diversity and rich heritage through a wide variety of ethnic food, music, dance, arts and crafts.”
Although the colorful array of edible options (which this year includes everything from schnitzel and vegan chili to Belgian waffles and Congolese chicken kebabs) is always a big draw, the festival truly lives up to its name via artisanal demonstrations and performances on six stages brought to life by more than 250 cultural organizations and individuals based in Texas. Beyond an abundance of festively costumed dance troupes (San Antonio Lion Dancers, Hula Hula Ohana Elikapeka, Csárdás Hungarian Dancers, Ballet Folklórico de San Antonio, Mazurka Polish Dancers and Lebanese Folkdancers of St. George, to name a few), the 47th annual festival features a daily parade (6pm Fri, 11:30am Sat, 6pm Sun), an eclectic live music lineup, martial arts presentations, diverse vendors and a seed-spitting contest hosted by the Luling Watermelon Thump.
$5-$15, 5-11pm Fri Jun 8, 11am-11pm Sat Jun 9, noon-7pm Sun Jun 10, UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., (210) 458-2300, texasfolklifefestival.org.
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